Committee on Finance. - Vote 55—Industry and Commerce (Resumed).

Mr. Corish

I am sure the Minister realises the seriousness of the position in respect of coke for foundries, but there could be impressed upon him rather more forcibly the situation that exists in towns which depend on foundries for their main source of income in wages. The Minister, in introducing the Estimate, treated the position as regards the supply of furnace coke for foundries absolutely too casually and did not seem to realise the seriousness of the position, particularly in the towns of Wexford. He referred to the matter in one brief sentence—I quote from volume 105, column 814 of the Official Debates:—

"Foundry production was brought to a virtual standstill by the stoppage of the deliveries of foundry coke and coal; but the total capacity of existing foundries is adequate to cover all our needs of cast-iron household goods and new developments are in contemplation by a number of existing firms."

I do not know what is the Minister's primary worry in the matter of furnace coke for foundries, but my main worry is caused by the unemployment which has been created by the scarcity of furnace coke. Perhaps the Minister would be a little more active in endeavouring to provide furnace coke if he realised that, of 600 foundry employees in the town of Wexford, up to 500 are unemployed and are walking the streets at the present time, that in the firm of Pierce there are 450 men unemployed, that in the Star Engineering Works 120 workers are on three days per week, that in St. John's Iron Works, Enniscorthy, the workers are on half-time and there is grave danger that the foundry will be closed down in another week or two; that £2,500 is being lost in wages to the foundry workers in the towns of Wexford alone, that many of the men who were dismissed from the foundries some eight or ten weeks ago are contemplating going to England, that some of them are ready to go to England and that, unless the Minister does something to prevent it, these men will be lost to the towns and to the industries and there is grave danger that these skilled men will not be available to the important trade of the manufacture of agricultural implements in the town of Wexford.

It will not be sufficient for the Minister to make another casual statement in this matter, if he proposes to reply to the points I have put forward in this debate. Action must be taken at once. It should not be deferred for two weeks or a month, because, if the position is allowed to develop and if furnace coke is not made available within the next two weeks, the season will be lost to the trade and there will be consequent loss not only to the town of Wexford but to the export trade of the country. Above all, there is the consideration of employment. The men concerned have been walking the streets of Wexford and Enniscorthy for the last eight or ten weeks. They are a drain on the taxpayers. Unless something can be done immediately they will be left in that position for another six months.

The Minister talked about an export trade. I wonder does he realise that there is an export market for two-thirds of the total manufacture of agricultural implements and machinery in the towns of Wexford. At the present time there are on order from Great Britain 800 tractor mowers but the foundries cannot fill that order because of lack of fuel. Ploughs, corn drills and every other type of agricultural machine are on order from Great Britain but cannot be supplied owing to lack of fuel. Surely it is not too much to represent to the British Government that if we could get furnace coke we could fill the orders which have come to us from Britain. I do not know whether or not the Minister or his Department realise it, but I am perfectly certain that the British foundries will not be able to meet the requirements of the British farmer during the coming year. Apart altogether from the importance of the export market, the Minister should realise that farmers all over this country are clamouring for the spare parts that normally the foundries in Wexford could provide.

In the Wexford foundries orders have been stacked up in the last eight or ten weeks from farmers all over Ireland for spare parts for ploughs and other agricultural machinery so that they may take part in the great tillage drive. There is no stock to equip the harvest machinery and if something is not done in the near future to provide fuel for Messrs. Pierce, the Star Engineering Works and St. John's Foundry, Enniscorthy, there will be serious difficulty in the matter of machinery for harvesting. If these foundries cannot get the fuel to manufacture the implements the farmer requires for the harvest there will be a very serious shortage and the harvest next year, if recovered at all, will be late. The raw material is not in short supply. The manufacturers can make the implements which are ordered. The only difficulty is the supply of furnace coke. I would suggest to the Minister that in so far as we do export a lot of our agricultural implements and machinery to Great Britain it would be a good proposition to go over to find out the possibility of trading these agricultural implements and machinery for coke. I do not know whether he had furnace coke in mind, when he talked about the change-over to oil. Possibly he already knows that it is not possible for foundries such as we have in the Wexford towns to change over to oil. In order to engage in the work in which they are engaged coke is absolutely essential and there is no possibility of changing over. In any case the period of change-over would be too long. I would like to know from the Minister with reference to a statement by him that in a short time coal from the United States would be available and if that coal will help the foundries which I have mentioned. I would like also to ask the Minister if he will make some short statement regarding transport and the prior claims for the transport of cement. He knows very well that there is a serious housing shortage all over the country. Possibly in a lot of cases the reason why these housing projects are held up is because there is a lack of cement and that, where available, the transport cannot be provided for it. I would like the Minister to try to arrange some method whereby the transport of cement would gain some priority.

Lately there has come from the Department of Industry and Commerce a Fuel Order embodied in which is a reference to rationing and a reference to people who are entitled to sell fuel— timber fuel and turf fuel. As far as I can see the country has not the slightest idea of what this Order means, when it will come into force or whether it has in fact come into force. I can quote examples of people who purchased timber fuel two or three months ago, who actually paid for the standing timber, but who do not know now quite well whether they are entitled to take that timber fuel into the towns or if they are prohibited from doing so by the Order. It would be well if some clear statement were made by the Minister or by his Department as to the position of these people, that is, people who purchased fuel before the Order came out. I would like to protest, too, against one of the terms of that Order which prohibits men from the country who were in the habit of delivering fuel to the towns and who have now been stopped from doing so. Many of these men have been delivering fuel to the towns down through the years and this has been their only means of livelihood. It is the only trade or business which they know and they have been engaged for ten, 20, 30 years in cutting down timber in the country and carting it into the towns for sale and these unfortunate men now have their livelihood absolutely taken from them.

I was very interested and at times amused by the Minister's remarks about the tourist industry in this country. In reply to an interruption he said that the hotels or the restaurants did not get any extra butter ration because we had some thousands of foreign visitors over here. Nobody complained as to whether the hotels or restaurants got any extra butter when the tourist season was at its height. Our complaint is that these people who come across here during the summertime eat food which is an absolute necessity and which is in short supply. The tourist trade is beneficial to some people but to the general public it is, and will be in the coming season, detrimental as regards food supplies for the coming winter. We know that the hotels or restaurants did not get any extra rations of bread or butter or sugar or any other food commodity, but we do know that a few hundred thousand people come over here and buy up our eggs and butter and clothes to the detriment of the people. The Minister made a point that most of these people were of Irish origin or had Irish connections—that 75 per cent. to 80 per cent. of them were people who had relatives or direct connections in Ireland. Can the Minister give us any guarantee that when the tourist trade opens again in Europe these people who now claim to be of Irish descent will ever come back to us and give us the benefit of their money when we are in competition with the tourist trade in Europe?

I was very interested in the Minister's statement about the development of the ports and to see that the port of Dublin has got £500,000 for the development or construction of a graving dock and Waterford £450,000 to improve its harbour. I cannot see why so much attention is paid to Dublin. Recent reports from the newspapers indicate that there is an absolute bottleneck at the port of Dublin, that Dublin cannot cater for the trade which comes into it and the Minister interested should try to encourage the other ports and harbours throughout Ireland to take that burden from the port of Dublin. It is a significant fact that the population of Dublin represents between one-fifth and one-sixth of the population of the whole country. The country is absolutely top-heavy and that top-heaviness is Dublin. The Minister should try to see that other ports on the eastern coast should be developed. The country as a whole would benefit and everything would not be cramped up in this City of Dublin. I have no particular grievance against Dublin as a city but I feel that some attention should be paid to the rest of the country. It is the duty of any Minister for Industry and Commerce to see that the whole country thrives but so long as attention is paid to Dublin, so long as direction is given from Dublin and is given to Dublin we will have nothing but an Ireland composed of the City of Dublin. Every industry, every type of trade, of activity, is carried on in Dublin and the rest of the cities and towns of Ireland are just falling away year after year.

That brings me back again to a point which I tried to make with the Minister here on the Estimates last year. That point concerns the port of Wexford. It is not so much for the town or the port of Wexford that I make the plea but if the south-eastern corner of Ireland is to be developed some attention must be paid to the port of Wexford. A scheme was prepared by the Department of Industry and Commerce in 1934 but it was shelved. We have every reason to believe that that scheme is quite practicable and if it were to be examined again it would be found to be so. If it were to be taken down from its dusty shelf and examined again, perhaps something could be done to ensure that the south-eastern corner will have an opportunity to thrive. Possibly we may be lacking to some extent in that we have not agitated in a stronger fashion for the development of Wexford Harbour. I suggest now that the Minister should re-examine the scheme sent up in 1934 with a view to giving a substantial sum towards its development.

On the question of bread rationing, everybody appreciated the Minister's difficulties in that regard. I think he got over those difficulties quite well, but he was absolutely indiscriminate in the manner in which he allocated the extra bread ration to different types of workers. It is highly entertaining to me to hear that a man employed at tree-felling is entitled to an extra bread ration provided he has to take his midday meal from his home, while the man who is self-employed in tree-felling or cutting turf, and who has to travel the same distance, is not entitled to the extra ration. I could cite examples of men who work side by side on the same job, who have to go the same distance as they live in the same street, and one gets an extra bread ration while the other does not.

I do not know what sort of system exists in the Department for the allocation of bread, or who examines the different applications from the men, but I do know that there is great dissatisfaction in certain categories of workers because of the way the Department's scheme is administered. There should be a review of the situation as is affects the workers in rural Ireland. Engine drivers employed by the county council and drivers of threshing sets, men who have to travel all over a county, possibly 40, 50 or 70 miles, men who are always away from home, were turned down by the Department when they applied for an extra bread ration. We appreciate the Minister's difficulties, but we think there was no proper supervision as regards the allocation of the extra bread ration.

The main reason I rose to speak on this Estimate was to urge the Minister, on behalf of the people of the towns in County Wexford, to try to do something about obtaining furnace coke. We know certain priorities have to be made; we know the gas companies have to get it first, then the bakeries, and then possibly the foundries. It is vital, we realise, that the people of Dublin and elsewhere should have a supply of gas; it is vital that the bakeries should have sufficient fuel to carry on, but I suggest it is also vital that 400 or 500 men should be kept at work in our foundries; it is their livelihood. These men should not be allowed to go around idle for two or three months with no prospect of employment. What they get from the labour exchanges or from other sources will never compensate them for the wages they would get from these foundries.

I realise all the difficulties, but I suggest there should be a determined effort made to surmount them. The Minister or his higher officials should try to bring about some bargain. Surely we have given sufficient to England to deserve some return. Take my town as an example. We supplied men and women to England and we helped her in other ways. Our country has supplied her with cattle. We made every effort since the foundries were established in Wexford to supply agricultural implements and machinery to England. It would not be too much to ask the British Government, in a time of crisis for 500 men, to make an allocation of furnace coke to the Wexford foundries. The amount of coke involved will not be so very considerable; it will not go into tens of thousands of tons.

I trust the Minister will be able to indicate that there is some hope of such an allocation. It would be an admirable thing if the Minister in the course of his reply were able to say: "I am having this matter thoroughly investigated; I am making the necessary representations to London and I hope within a few days there will be sufficient coke available to enable these men to return to work."

Last Thursday we had a very gloomy review of our trade and economic position from the Minister. He covered a very wide field of economic activities. One thing that struck me in his statement was the absence of that customary jauntiness and self-assurance which the Minister is wont to adopt in the House. He gave me the impression that he was understating the position and that he was not frank with the House in the many serious problems which are confronting us. In fact, if one were to sum up what he had to say, it might be summarised in the Irish phrase "Mair, a chapaill, agus gheobhaidh tú féar"—"Live horse and you will get grass." But the problem for the horse is how to live until he gets the grass, and that is the position in which I see this country to-day.

I shall address myself to the general picture which I see emerging from the Minister's statement. He told us our imports last year were in the order of £71,000,000 and that our exports were in the order of £30,000,000, giving us an adverse trade balance in the year's trading of £33,000,000. Our estimated credit balance in 1945, for which the latest figures are available, was in the neighbourhood of £29,000,000. It is clear that our credit balance at the present time is insufficient, by at least £4,000,000 per annum, to meet the gap between imports and exports. At least to that extent at the present time we are carrying on our trade by calling upon capital or accumulated moneys. So far as I can see the picture, there is every reason to believe that the credit balance will become less sufficient to bridge that gap.

Experts who have gone into this matter rather carefully take the view that the credit balance for 1946 will have contracted considerably from £29,000,000. That sum was, to some extent, frozen and it has become available because certain payments which had been frozen are now thawing out. But there are other aspects of our credit position to which I would like to draw the Minister's attention because, to my mind, they prove conclusively that we cannot count upon that balance continuing even at the 1945 or 1946 rate. If I am right in that assumption, then it is clear to me, and I am sure it will be to others, that we can carry on efficiently only if we increase our exports and reduce our imports, or alternatively draw upon our capital resources to continue in international trade. Our imports from Great Britain and Northern Ireland for 1946 were £37,000,000 odd and our exports to the same area were £35,000,000. On that trade alone, we have an adverse balance of £1,619,000. Our imports from all other countries for 1946 were £34,000,000 odd and our exports, £2,977,000 of which, mark you, no less than half, I would estimate, were covered by exports of food for European relief, so that the net figure there would be something bigger if we exclude European relief exports.

In essence, we are in the position that our imports are increasing at an alarming rate while there is little prospect at the present time of increasing our exports and our problem will be to find some means by which the gap between the two can be bridged. If you examine import prices, you will find that they are 121 per cent. above the pre-war level, whereas export prices have increased only to 110 per cent. above pre-war level. Taking import prices on that basis, it means that £100 to-day is able to purchase what £45 would purchase pre-war. In other words, there is a gap there of 55 per cent. which is not met by exports. I submit it is not met by visible exports and certainly not by invisible exports. The Government's problem will be to find ways and means of bridging that gap forthwith.

The net effect of this is that our income from investments abroad has been attenuated. There is every evidence of that fact if you examine the banking returns for the war period. Sterling investments abroad held by banks increased by something like 230 per cent. They jumped from £70,000,000 to £164,000,000, but, mark you, the income from these investments for the same period increased by only 12 per cent. There is every reason to believe that by reason of the cheap money policy at present being pursued in Great Britain, the income from these investments will contract still further. That means that the income from investments abroad, pensions from abroad, and the receipts from the tourist trade, which are the bulk of our invisible exports, will be, unless the position is radically altered, less efficient to bridge the gap I have indicated. Our problem, therefore, is to address ourselves to the measures by which that gap is going to be bridged and the country placed on a sound economic basis so that the economic life of the country will be preserved at something like the pre-war standard, if we are not to have a definite reduction in our own standard of living here.

Pre-war, that is in 1938, we had an adverse trade balance of £17,000,000 and in 1938 our credit balance was insufficient by almost £3,000,000 to counteract that adverse trade balance. I would venture to say that at the moment our credit balance is even more insufficient to bridge the gap of £33,000,000 between our import and export figures to-day. I want to hear from the Minister what plans the Government have under consideration for the early bridging of that gap. It is not a matter that can brook of delay. We cannot continue to live for years to come on capital. It is doubtful if we can continue to live for the next three to five years on capital and that is what we shall be doing unless we can bridge this gap. It is clear to my mind, therefore, that we shall have to maintain a credit balance on current international trading account of at least double the pre-war figures. If we cannot succeed in doing that, that will be the measure of our failure and to that extent we shall be encroaching on the standard of living of our people here. I had no figures for 1946 and I can only base what I say upon what experts elsewhere have said—that the credit balance for 1946 will, in all probability, be less than the £29,000,000. I believe the deficiency for the year 1946 and even for 1947 will be anywhere between £5,000,000 and £10,000,000. I do not want to put it any more accurately than that, but I believe it will be nearer £10,000,000 than £5,000,000.

It is not a very pleasant picture and one which one does not like to dwell upon for any great length of time, but it is a picture which the country must face. It is a problem which the Government must tackle, not on a long-term basis but immediately. It is no wonder that the Minister had to say in his statement that unless we are to give up in despair we must continue to plan for the future. The question is, how we are to plan for the future? It is on the plan for the future that we may differ on this side of the House. The Minister says that Government policy is based on the principle of nothing for nothing, the principle of a £ for £ vis-a-vis Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and in so far as the Government can achieve that objective, they will have the support of the House. At the same time, it is well to remember that that does not go any way towards meeting our main problem, the problem of balancing this huge gap of £33,000,000 between imports and exports, the problem of finding dollars for the import of goods from hard currency countries. At present we have big demands upon these countries for capital goods—for machinery of all kinds for agricultural and industrial requirements—and we shall be faced with a very serious problem next July when the sterling dollar pool comes to an end.

I certainly could not follow the Minister in his remarks in relation to sterling vis-a-vis dollars after July. To my mind, the whole problem of dollar and sterling seems to be hung up in the air, and at present we seem to be in the position that our whole economic and financial future will be decided for us not by ourselves in negotiation with others but by external events. I should like to hear from the Minister where he hopes to obtain dollars after July next. The dollar-sterling arrangement was based on the assumption that sterling convertible into dollars would be freely available after next July, but this will largely depend upon Britain being able to carry out her export policy. Britain is in the position of having to export goods or die economically, and we, for different reasons, are virtually in the same position. Britain, because of her war sacrifices, because of the destruction of her property and particularly because of the loss of her foreign investments, finds herself in the position that she has to increase her exports to two and a half times the pre-war figure. In our case, the external assets which have been so much debated from time to time in this House are virtually disappearing, through external forces over which we have largely no control.

We have to face up to that position. Whatever the nominal value of these external investments may have been at one time, whether they were £200,000,000, £300,000,000 or £400,000,000, they are at present, so far as purchasing power is concerned, considerably reduced, and in fact cut. If they amounted even to £400,000,000, their present value in purchasing power to-day is certainly not £200,000,000, and it is questionable if to-morrow they would fetch even £200,000,000 in purchasing power, so that our people who have built up these credit balances abroad will find themselves in this position, that where they gave goods or services in the past to the tune of £400,000,000, when they come to realise this amount, they will not get anything like half what they have given away. In other words, the real value and real income from these assets has been cut by half. There are rumours abroad that our Government may be asked to consider a still greater reduction in these assets, that, taking these assets at their nominal value, the Government may be asked to agree to a 33? per cent. or perhaps a 50 per cent. cut.

I want to say on that point that it would be most inequitable and most unreasonable, having regard to the depreciation of these assets, that we should be asked formally to agree to any further cut in their real value to us. In so far, therefore, as these may be of assistance to us to help us to get out of our economic difficulties, the Minister will have to take a realist view of these matters and drive a very hard bargain with the British authorities concerned. Other Deputies have appealed, for sentimental reasons, to the Minister to be open-hearted and generous, but we have to be open-hearted and generous with our own people first, and, on the assumption that the Minister and the Government will approach these problems from the Irish point of view, from the point of view of supporting the interests involved here, they will have their support; but it is a horse of a different colour if we on this side are to be asked to support any suggestion of a formal cut in these credit balances.

Whatever the difficulties may be, and they are undoubtedly grave—the gravest that ever occurred in the economic history of the British peoples —nevertheless, if we are not careful in our approach to these problems, we may find that we are creating far more serious problems for ourselves. I should like, therefore, to hear from the Minister how he proposes to find dollars after July next for the financing of our international trade with hard currency countries, and particularly America. The whole problem to my mind boils down to this, that we have two alternatives—to export beyond anything we have attempted heretofore, or to resort to living on our capital. The latter course would be disastrous economically, and therefore it is clear to every-body who has given any thought to these matters that we shall have to step up our production, both in agriculture and industry, and step it up forthwith.

Mention has been made of many markets abroad for different classes of goods and mention has also been made of the difficulties confronting industry at present in the matter of availing itself of these markets. I do not want to minimise these difficulties in any way, but it seems to me, listening to the Minister and basing our assumptions on the fact that we will not have normal supplies of coal here for perhaps some years, that we may miss the seller's market by the time industry is ready to get into its stride, and we want to be careful for that very reason. Electric power in any appreciable quantity will not become available until the end of 1949, and the bulk of it will not become available until after 1951, and it is clear that we will not be in a position to double our electric power, as the Minister envisages, for perhaps another five or ten years. If, in the meantime, we are unable to get back to normal imports of coal, it is as plain as a pikestaff to me that industry will miss the seller's market. There is a seller's market to-day and there will be a seller's market for the next three to five years, but industry is in the position that it is not able to get into that market at the moment, and, by reason of the facts I have given, will not be able to attempt to get into it for five years. The question for the House to consider is whether it will be worth our while to attempt to get into that market in five years. Will the market have evaporated? Will it have gone? Will the other countries have come into production?

Will all those grandiose schemes, of which we have heard so much, vanish into thin air? Had we been pondering these problems, we might have been more ready to avail of that market than we are. We are handicapped for want of capital equipment in the way of machinery, skilled management and, above all, skilled operatives. It strikes me that we may just miss the bus and that all our efforts will have gone for nothing. I want to emphasise that aspect of the Minister's statement as much as possible because I think that it will take from five to ten years to get industry under way. By that time, the market we are hoping to get may have gone to somebody else. If we could get in now and build up international goodwill and international trade relations, we might be able to hold that trade later but, if we cannot get in for five or ten years, there is a danger that we may be late. Therefore, I think that the Minister would be well advised to address himself to the immediate problem of agriculture. Though agriculture is not the Minister's responsibility, if he were to concentrate on stepping up agricultural production as an industry, as against all those other industries, we might be able to develop an export market during the next two or three years which would give us the desired results. It would be better business to develop that market, which is, undoubtedly, capable of immediate development even with our own resources, than embark on a long-term industrial policy which may miss the market towards which it is directed.

I appeal to the Minister to concentrate his efforts on the stepping up of production in agriculture. The farmermembers of this House will be the first to agree with me when I say that there is under-production in agriculture, even with our present equipment. There is nothing like the production per man-hour in agriculture here which prevails elsewhere. Our volume of production was last year only 5 per cent. above the pre-war volume. We are short of almost every essential food which any Deputy can name. We are short of butter, bacon, milk, bread and sugar. If there is to be industrial development, I think that the future will lie in the development of the by-products of agriculture rather than in any other line. As the Minister himself has admitted, we cannot engage in industries in which other countries have been for years engaged and in which they have built up a great tradition. We cannot attempt to compete successfully with the industries of Britain or America but we can, certaily, develop certain lines of industry from agriculture—the woollen and worsted trade, beer, stout and whiskey, canned meats, milk, vegetables and tinned foods of all kinds. These are the lines on which we should be concentrating. These are the lines that will give the best results. There is no use in sending coals to Newcastle. I should like to know from the Minister where the alternative markets for our industrial goods are. I know that there are markets immediately available on the Continent and even in Britain for certain lines of goods which are in short supply, due to the emergency, but, by the time we are ready to avail of those markets, they will have gone, whereas there is a hope that we shall be able to develop a long-term policy in the lines I have mentioned.

Britain is a large importer of food products of all kinds. If we were getting into that market now, there is every reason to believe that we could hold that market in competition with our trade rivals in the years ahead. I should rather see developments take place on those lines than on new lines which may not give us results. There is a future for woollen and worsted goods. There is a market for them even in America. The beer and stout industry could be developed. I do not know whether Guinness have ever attempted to develop an American taste for stout. I do not know whether they have ever tried to contact the Irish population in America in connection with their export trade. I believe that there is a field there which might be worked up and that it would be better to work up a stable industry such as that than develop a new line. I believe that the Irish whiskey industry has been neglected down the years. We have not done, either by State enterprise, or by private enterprise, for Irish whiskey what has been done for Scotch whisky. If the export problem were tackled here as it was tackled in Scotland, I believe that we could get a big market for Irish whiskey in America, Australia and, perhaps, in Canada. Canned meats, tinned foods and fruits would pay for their development both now and for a long time to come.

I do not know what industries it is proposed to set up here. The Minister did not give us particulars of them. They may include some of those I have mentioned but, whatever they be, I want to stress the importance of developing the by-products of agriculture as against purely industrial development which may miss its market. There is always at our hand a market for these by-products whereas the market for industrial goods may be purely transitory. For that reason, we have to take a very serious view of the whole position. We shall be about £10,000,000 short of balancing our imports. We have got to find an export market, therefore, not in ten years' time but in the immediate future. The Minister has indicated that, in the matter of industrial development, the two key problems are coal and electrical power. We all agree. It is problematical when the coal problem will rectify itself in Britain and, as I have already said, electric power cannot come into full production here for, at least, five years.

Therefore, we must willy-nilly address ourselves to the problem of stepping up production in agriculture with such resources as we have here at the moment. I hold that agriculture, given a proper plan and a proper lead from the Minister for Agriculture, can be stepped up within a very short space of time, but in order to do that it must be treated basically on the same principle as industry. The necessity for capital formation must be fully appreciated. At the present time, some experts put the need for capital formation in agriculture as high as £100,000,000, while some put it as low as £50,000,000, so it is somewhere between the two. That means that, if agriculture as an industry is to be put on a sound, efficient, economic basis to compete with agricultural countries elsewhere, it must find anything from £50,000,000 to £100,000,000 by way of capital formation.

Given a proper lead from the State, there is no reason why investments in agriculture should not be made even by the small private investor. There is no reason why a scheme could not be evolved by the State whereby moneys lying idle in our banks would be readily made available for agricultural development. At the present time, there are only very restricted credit facilities available to farmers. The facilities available under the Agricultural Credit Corporation are nothing like adequate to enable the farmer to meet his needs. In any event, the money available there is at too high a rate of interest. If this job is to be tackled at all, it must be tackled by means of grants or interest-free loans, or at least loans at a very low rate of interest, so that the industry at the start would not be handicapped by heavy interest and loan charges. Whatever grants or loans are made available, they must be made on very long-term policies. The present two, three or five years' policies will have to go. Loans, particularly for capital investment for equipment on farms, will have to be given on a much more liberal scale and over a much longer period of years.

That all pre-supposes some plan, some lead, somebody thinking out the problem of the agriculturist. It is our basic industry and therefore our basic problem. I am sure that, if the different Parties in this House got together to evolve a plan for agriculture, a plan that would put it on an efficient competitive basis, that plan could materalise overnight, given goodwill on all sides.

As I see the problem of agriculture to-day, it is the problem of competing with the collective farming which obtains elsewhere, the large-scale farming which obtains in Australia, America, Canada and other countries. We are carrying on a system of farming here to-day that is out-moded. It is a system that might have been all very well when we were thinking of establishing peasant proprietorship on the land and thinking of nothing else. But if we are thinking in terms of farming as an industry, as producing goods to enter into competition with other agricultural countries, we are at least 50 to 100 years behind in development. We must address ourselves to that problem. We have too many small holdings, too many uneconomic holdings and it will be a very big problem to superimpose on these small uneconomic holdings a system by which they can get the advantages, as it were, of collective farming. I know this is not the Minister's particular bailiwick, but I want to emphasise—and I have said it before in the House—that, as I see the problem, we have got to scrap our present system of land tenure.

On a point of order, are we discussing the Minister for Industry and Commerce's Estimate for the Agricultural Estimate?

I think the Deputy is quite in order.

May I submit, through the Chair, to the Deputy who has intervened that agriculture is the basic industry of this country?

It is a good attempt to put into force here the collective farming system from Russia.

There is no one attempting to do that. That Deputy from Drogheda is usually irrelevant, but never more so than he is now. He has just woken up.

The Deputy will not put that one over.

I am not advocating, as the Deputy tried to misrepresent me, collective farming. I am 10,000,000 miles away from collective farming. If we as an agricultural community are to survive in the markets of the world in open competition, we must be able to bring to our people on these uneconomic holdings and on small farms and large farms, the benefits of what is obtained elsewhere, whether through collective farming or large-scale farming. Either through private enterprise or through co-operative enterprise or through State enterprise——

Now we are coming to it.

——we will have to make available to our agricultural community all the most up-to-date methods of farming which are available elsewhere under the collective system. I am not afraid to use the word "collective" in this House.

Now it is out.

That is the problem— to give these people the advantage through co-operation and through State help that would put them on a competitive basis with collective farmers elsewhere.

If the Deputy wishes to make a speech, he has the whole evening for it. Our farming system here has evolved through a long history of land agitation, with which we are all familiar. It has resulted in the 20th century in our having too many small holdings which are uneconomic.

I think the Deputy is beginning to specialise a bit on agriculture.

I am specialising, as I hold that, if we are to save our economic position here and bridge the gap between imports and exports, it must be done by stepping up the production of agriculture and therefore stepping up agricultural exports. That is what I am trying to lead to and I say that cannot be done under our present system of farming, unless we can make available what the farmer requires— and I do not care whether it is by private enterprise or co-operative enterprise or State enterprise, or even, to give Deputy Walsh his word, by collective enterprise, so long as the farmer gets the benefit of the capital formation that is needed, particularly for machinery and fertilisers and the other things that make up efficient farming. We all know that the ordinary small farmer cannot invest in machinery of the modern up-to-date type——

He must go.

——such as tractors, combined harvesters and so on. There is special machinery being evolved now as a result of war experience and being applied on farms elsewhere. I want to see that type of development available here to our ordinary farmers. I want to see all that capital equipment placed at their disposal, either by co-operative action or, preferably, through private enterprise, if it can be done in that way. If it cannot, then it should be done through State enterprise, so that the farmers in every parish and townland may have the same facilities as the farmers in Canada, America, or even in Deputy Walsh's constituency, Russia. That is all that I am pleading for, that when it comes to develop our policy on these lines the claims of agriculture will be considered on something like these lines so that we can, within the next two years, develop an export market in agriculture. I see no hope of developing an export market in industrial goods within the next two years except to a limited extent. We can definitely do it within two years in the case of agriculture.

As far as industrial production is concerned, I want to say to the Minister and through him to the Department and through it again to the industrialists, that he must definitely lay down once and for all the general principles upon which industrialists are to carry on in this country. Many of them are in a specially privileged position; many of them are virtually in a monopolistic position; many of them are protected by quotas and tariffs, and have all the sheltered advantages of a protected industry. That being so, it is essential that the Minister should make it clear to the people engaged in industry that their first duty is to the community, that they are being given, as it were, a national service to perform, and that it must be performed for the nation rather than for the individual. The primary consideration in industry must be the service that is rendered by industrialists to our people, and industrialists must not be allowed to take, as the primary consideration, the profit-making motive.

The world is changing everywhere. We are told that we are approaching the age of the common man. We here, too, are changing and so must lay down the lines upon which industry in the future must carry on. I hold that it is not right or proper for the State to provide facilities for people simply to get rich quick, for people to pursue their own selfish ends with perhaps the most illogical consequences. To my mind, therefore, the emphasis in industry should be on service to the community and not on profit. While I say that, may I say also that the workers in industry also have a duty to the community? They must realise that their duty is also one of service to the community, and that, again, wages should not be the primary or all-pervading motive: that it is time we had a little stress laid on duty and on service, and that if these two things were preached by the Minister both to the industrialists, the manufacturers and employers on the one hand and to the workers on the other, and if both through his instrumentality were made realise that they are not antagonistic or hostile parties engaged in a perpetual battle with each other but rather partners in the business of the State and of the community, partners in a common business, one being complementary to the other, then we may be able to get somewhere in this country. But the indications are all the other way. We have the manufacturers, the employers and the industrialists, on the one hand, organising unions and federations of all kinds and complaining of the attitude of labour. We have labour on the other hand organising in unions and complaining of the attitude of employers, with both sides lined up in rival camps, both apparently regarding the community as fair game for anything that they can put over on the community. The Minister has a very serious responsibility in these matters. He has the responsibility of indicating to both sides that they are engaged in a communal service to the people, and that that is the primary consideration which ought to influence both employer and worker in the future. If we could get that outlook adopted, then we could hope eventually to evolve a spirit of cooperation in industry and in agriculture which would lead to good results.

I want, above all, to see industry run as a private enterprise with as little interference as possible from the State. I want, at the same time, to see general principles adumbrated and industry made keep to these general principles, the State to interfere only when these general principles are broken. In other words, the least supervision there is from the State the better it will be to my mind. It is fundamental, however, in our economic system that the general principles and the general laws under which industry and agriculture are to function must be laid down. Given that condition, we can hope in the future to have an economic system here in which the relations will be harmonious, one under which all can sit down and work for the betterment of the nation.

As between public and private enterprise, in my opinion we have had too much public enterprise in this country with, may I say to the Minister, disastrous consequences in many directions. The Minister in the course of his statement gave us the history of Irish Steel, a company which is at present in the hands of a receiver. I understand that it was previously in the hands of a receiver and, further, that the present receiver was the former manager of the company when it was functioning. The Minister hinted at introducing legislation to develop Irish Steel as a State enterprise. I am wondering whether he is contemplating appointing the present receiver, who was the former manager, as the new manager of the State enterprise. It seems to me rather illogical that the State should go into a business which private enterprise failed to make pay, failed even to keep as a going concern. It seems to me illogical that the State should embark on steel enterprise here because, as far as I know anything about steel, we have to depend on scrap metal for raw materials or import the iron ore from abroad and I do not know that we can attempt the manufacture of steel on anything like an economic basis here. Undoubtedly, there is a steel shortage in Britain, which may prevail for some time, but I am just wondering if it is worth while attempting to go into steel here for the sake of perhaps being able to carry on for a few years until the world markets for steel become normal again.

On this matter of State enterprise, State enterprise through officialdom is to my mind a wrong way of doing the job. The civil servant is not, neither by training nor experience, qualified for business of any kind. The civil servant, generally, is a man who is continually looking upwards to the man above him, who is continually marking time, submitting matter for decision to the man above him. It is an endless process of circumlocution, a very slow, tedious process in which responsibility cannot be fixed, in which there is very little initiative and no enterprise. The tendency is towards stagnation, towards precedent, towards carefulness and caution, towards those very things which are certainly not wanted in business. The business man from day to day has to take risks and quick decisions. He has to take them overnight. He has to embark on his business and sink his money in it overnight. Very often he has to engage in a type of gamble which may or may not come off. The State servant cannot at any time indulge in any of these things which are open to the private individual in business. All his training is the other way. All his training is to submit to authority and to await the decision of authority and very often, as we all know, that decision will take weeks and perhaps months to materialise because of the very system.

I am not casting any aspersion on the efficiency of individual civil servants or the efficiency of the Civil Service. As a machine for the job for which it was built it is undoubtedly highly efficient but it is not a machine that was intended for industry. It is certainly not the machine to attempt the promotion of industrial projects or the economic betterment of the country. If there must be State enterprise, and there are certain fields of economic activity in which you cannot avoid State enterprise of some kind or another, I would say in all seriousness that the time has arrived when the Minister must consider recruiting specially for that type of activity. The ordinary methods of recruitment for the Civil Service are not suited for State or business enterprise and if we are to have as a permanent feature of our economic life the intervention of State servants, the presence of State servants on public boards and enterprises of all kinds, we must recruit special industrial civil servants, possibly from business, possibly from industry, but certainly men who are experienced in industry and in manufacture. It would be worth the Minister's while to hold out inducements to trained business men to come into enterprise of that kind, if the State must undertake that type of enterprise, rather than try to transform the ordinary civil servant into an industrialist or manufacturer overnight. It just cannot be done.

I should like to know from the Minister what is the quality of the American coal which we have got. The British coal is utterly hopeless. It is the merest refuse. Virtually not 10 per cent. of the coal we are getting to-day would have been regarded as coal pre-war. It is a mixture of slate, shale, culm, slack and dirt—as far as I can see, the scrapings of the pit yard. I cannot understand why we have to put up with that quality. I cannot see why efforts could not be made by the Minister to have the quality improved. I do not know if that is the quality of coal that is being imposed on British industry or on the British consumer. I doubt it very much. The coal I have seen had not been sorted, screened or cleaned in any way. The Minister should take steps to have our coal imports increased and to have the quality improved. If American coal is anything like the pre-war quality of British coal it would be very good business for us to get all the American coal we can get at £6 a ton. I understand that American coal can be delivered here at something like £6 a ton. If that is true—and it is not contradicted by the Minister—the Minister should use all the resources at the Government's disposal to increase imports of American coal during the coming year. American coal delivered in Dublin at £6 a ton is certainly much more economic for us than turf at any price. If we were to calculate the cost of producing one ton of turf, based on ordinary costings and labour charges, and were to add the cost by way of turf lost on the bogs every year and wastage in handling, we would arrive at a figure of something like £8 or £10 per ton. On the basis of the figures I have seen for turf, excluding losses caused by weather and losses of turf on the bogs, the cost of turf was about £5 4s. 0d. a ton. These other items that I have mentioned would certainly bring the cost to a very high figure. It therefore seems to me that a ton of good quality American coal at £6 would be good business for us. It would be equal to at least two to three tons of turf.

I was glad to note that the Minister intends to spend £500,000 through Mianraí, Teoranta, on the exploration of our mineral resources. I hope a good portion of that sum will be devoted to the exploration of our coalfields. I know that there are not as many votes in coal as there are in turf. I have a suspicion that I cannot divorce myself from that the gentlemen on the opposite benches have committed themselves irretrievably to turf because it is a better vote-catching proposition than coal. Ignoring that factor, I do say in all seriousness that if anything like 20 per cent. or 30 per cent. of the money expended on turf had been devoted to the development of our coal resources we might not be in the almost impossible plight that we find ourselves in to-day. I am not saying that there are untold resources of coal here. I am not saying that there is anything like the millions of tons of coal that the 1921 Industrial Commission believed would be found here. I believe that commission was imposed upon by a foreign expert. I believe the figures that that expert gave were nowhere near the truth. I do know that in the Munster coalfield there is a good deal of coal but that much of it is unworkable as a commercial proposition. I do want the Minister to devote his time and energy to the problem of developing whatever commercial resources in coal we have immediately available. I want him to take a chance on developing out-crop coal and on developing coal elsewhere. He has already indicated to the House that this can only be done through private enterprise. If that is to be the position, I cannot see any development taking place in coal, because anybody giving thought to the matter will realise that there is a far greater financial risk and a far higher degree of speculation and a much bigger problem involved in prospecting for coal than in prospecting for turf. Anybody can locate turf. All you need is a spade. But the problem of locating coal is a long problem. It means prospecting, boring, and certain capital outlay of a heavy kind before you can get coal at all. I want the Minister to take some risk in that matter and I want him to give as much money as possible to coal prospecting. I want him to reconsider whether or not in certain areas and in certain circumstances it might be worth while developing coal by some form of State enterprise.

The capital needed for coal development is very heavy and for that reason alone we may not find a sufficient number of people here prepared to risk their money in coal. If you undertake coal prospecting and do not get coal you are at the loss of your capital. That is a snag which I think is preventing a number of people from putting their money into coal at the moment but if the Minister were to give a lead in this matter—and there are indications now that he is coming to change his mind on that matter and that he does intend to give as high a development as he can to coal—then I think money may follow. Much will depend upon the lead he is prepared to give, but I ask him to give a liberal allocation of public money to coal prospecting so that private enterprise here can have accurate and reliable information as to the possibilities of coal development. I would like the Minister with regard to the question of increasing the production of existing coal mines to consider some scheme of training for our coal mines. We are prepared here to allow our young men to go to Great Britain to become trainees in English coal mines. Why could not the Minister agree at the same time to some scheme by which Irishmen might be trained for work in Irish coal mines? The Minister has always told me: "If you want to increase the production of coal give us the miners and we will put them down in our existing mines". I know that in Castlecomer we could do with a few hundred men in Deer Park and I know that certain steps have been taken to train young men there in developing the Castlecomer coal still further. I know there are certain trade union difficulties in the way. I know that there is a certain reluctance on the part of miners to take on young fellows as learners with them but I think that, given the proper lead by the Minister, the miners could be induced to consider some scheme of training for increasing the number of miners to be engaged in our coalfields.

I would like to hear from the Minister something as to what took place in London at the recent trade negotiations there. It is futile to try to discuss the Minister's Vote in the absence of such information. I was told, in reply to a question which I addressed some time ago to the Taoiseach, that we would have an early opportunity of discussing the matter on the Vote for the Department of Industry and Commerce and I understood the Minister to promise the circulation of the White Paper of the American demands at this conference. Nothing of that kind has happened and we have had no opportunity of discussing these matters. We have had no official information on the point. We, on this side of the House, are considerably handicapped in contributing anything to a proper discussion on these matters.

At present a conference is taking place at Geneva. We are not represented there. It is clear, from whatever references to that conference I have been able to locate, that we are likely to be bound by whatever decisions are reached there and that we will have very little choice in the matter once decisions are agreed to. I know it is no fault of ours that we are not there but we did discuss the preliminary aspects of these negotiations in London and some decisions have been reached there which will be implemented at Geneva. I think it is right and proper that this House should know how far we are committed either to American or to British policy. I think we should know what decisions have been reached at London or are likely to be reached at Geneva and what our reaction is to the whole business.

We all know that the Americans are endeavouring, in exchange for a lowering of American tariffs, to get a removal of trade preferences in the Commonwealth. We all know that this is getting to such a position that the Americans appear to be aiming at a complete system of free trade for the entire world. Already there are indications that the American businessmen mean to dictate the tune. Our position here, therefore, is a peculiar one in that we are not represented at the vital negotiations at Geneva. We have had some discussions in London the nature of which we do not know, but we do know that the British themselves know that they are in the position that if they are going to continue to hope for the flow of dollars from America they will probably have to succumb to the American demands at Geneva. What is our position here in the event of the British agreeing either to a modification of tariffs, to the raising of tariffs altogether, or even to the imposition of tariffs against Commonwealth goods? It is quite conceivable that the British may be forced into the position of putting tariffs on Dominion goods. We are completely in the dark. We cannot discuss them and I think these matters are of such a vital character that we should have had the information long ago, so that a proper discussion of them could have taken place upon this Estimate. All I can gather from what the Minister had to say on these matters was that we do not know where we are. We might be faced with bilateral agreements. We might be faced with multilateral agreements. Nobody seems to know. It is all in the lap of the gods. At the same time the Minister held out the hope to his Irish industrialists here that they could continue to count on his protection, to count on quotas, to count on turf. Do not we all know if bilateral or multilateral agreements are arrived at that these will guide and bind us and we cannot have it both ways? I understood him also to say that even the bilateral agreements, whatever they may be, ultimately would have to fit into the multilateral pattern.

It seems to me that no matter what we are going to do here we are going to be bound by external events and that we shall have no choice whatever in the matter. We have simply to fall in step with what is being done elsewhere. I think we should have had the fullest possible information on that matter so that we could give it some sort of considered discussion here in this House. I think the Minister's statement is the most important that has been made in this House for many years and that the discussion of this matter is more important than the discussion of the Budget next month. I think that our whole economic future hinges on the implications of the Minister's statement and I think the Minister certainly understated the whole position. I think that the Minister did not give sufficient warning notes of the distress ahead. I think that the Minister did not address himself to the really crucial problems which we have to face here and, above all, I think he did not let the country know that we are now hamstrung by an economic system which finds itself in the position of having to export or expire. We should have had an opportunity of discussing these matters. We have not had that opportunity and I want to know from the Minister when shall we be given an opportunity of having this matter fully thrashed out.

I wish to say a few words on the subject of tourism. I was very glad to hear the Minister say that he did not encourage tourists here. It would be deplorable if he had done so. He has also said that he did not by propaganda, publicity or otherwise in any way endeavour to attract tourists to the country. I think it is only right and proper in our existing circumstances that he should have taken that line but I want to put this position to him. We are investing large sums of money in a tourist industry. We have a very long-term policy in regard to this tourist industry. I consider that this country cannot guarantee to the foreign tourist the most essential thing of all for a tourist, namely, good weather. In fact the tourists we are getting here at the moment are not tourists in the ordinary sense of the word. They are people in search of grub—hungry people who want to have a good feed. The shortage in Great Britain is purely a temporary phase. It is a phase which will pass. It is, certainly, to my mind, not a thing which is going to be a permanent feature of our tourist business here. The Minister has said that four out of every five people who come here are Irish or of Irish origin. If that be so it is still more a temporary feature.

Tourism in a normal, economic system is a good thing; it is one of the invisible exports by which we would hope to bridge the gap I referred to earlier, the gap between our visible imports and our visible exports. But I doubt very much that it is a good thing in our existing circumstances. Tourism is based on the principle that you have an exportable surplus of food and that exportable surplus, instead of having to undergo the cost of transport abroad, is exported in the stomachs of our visitors, as it were. On that basis, in a normal economic condition, it would be a good business, but we have no exportable surplus of food. On the contrary, we have a grave shortage of food of all kinds. I do not want to stress the point or go into details, but I suggest it is sound economy when we have an exportable surplus and times are normal, but it is bad economy when we have instead of a surplus a considerable shortage of all classes of food. When, in addition, you have to consider that the food is bought with money whose purchasing power is lowering every day, we have to consider whether or not this expenditure by tourists is not adding to our inflationary problem.

It is all very well for the Minister to say that the hotels and guest-houses are on a fixed allocation in the matter of supplies and that that does not vary from month to month, year to year, or whatever the period may be—that it does not vary in relation to the number of tourists coming in. We all know that thousands of these people never see an hotel; we all know that thousands of them go to private houses or boarding-houses not classed as hotels, and we all know they get ration cards at the local Gárda stations. The Minister, in reply to a Parliamentary question, told me that nearly 800,000 ration cards were issued last year. I calculated that the amount of butter used by the 800,000 visitors was something phenomenal and that it represented almost a month's supply of butter for the whole community. I do not know if the Minister's figures were accurate, but it is beside the point to argue that the hotel allocations are not in any way influenced up and down by the number of tourists here. The test is the number of ration cards issued and the amount of sugar, butter and other commodities used by the holders of these ration cards.

On an estimate given by the Tourist Association these people are supposed to have spent £10,000,000 last year. I do not know whether that figure is correct, but if £10,000,000 was spent we can assume that a considerable portion of it was spent on food, and that at a time when our own people were running short of essential commodities. We are adding to our problems by permitting these people into this country; we are adding to our food and inflationary problems and it is a matter for consideration whether or not we should allow that condition of things to continue—whether we will allow ourselves to continue to be short of essential food supplies. I know the problem is a difficult one. Taking a long-term view, it is right and proper that we should not do anything to spoil good feeling or good relations with other people, but we must look at this matter in a realistic light and try to make a common-sense approach to it.

As regards the subsidy for milk, I understand that in the past creameries that were engaged in the production of condensed milk, cheese and the materials for sweet manufacture got a higher rate of subsidy than creameries engaged in the manufacture of milk products proper. That is rather an inequitable arrangement, that industries catering for luxury trades should get a higher rate of subsidy than creameries engaged in such essential commodities as butter. I should like the Minister to investigate that matter, now that the price of milk and butter has been raised, and he should endeavour to put both products on an equitable basis in the matter of subsidy.

I should like the Minister to address himself to the problem of emigration. We have heard very much about it in recent years, particularly since the census figures were published. It seems an anomalous thing for the Minister to talk of developing industry and agriculture and stepping up production while at the same time he permits recruiting for British industries through the medium of advertisements in our papers. Every day in our newspapers you will find advertisements saying that recruits are wanted, both men and women, for British industries, and that at a time when we are short of labour here. Farmers cannot get enough labourers to do the spring work.

It seems anomalous that we should permit that type of thing to take place. It would seem the Government have definitely reconciled themselves to the position that we are to have chronic unemployment to the extent of 70,000 people here and a chronic emigration of 18,000 or 20,000 a year. If we are to develop industry and agriculture we must keep our people at home; we must have a labour population ready and willing to take part in that industrial and agricultural development. The Minister could do a great deal to stop emigration by taking measures to recruit labour for industries and agriculture. There are difficult problems to be faced, such as the freedom of the worker and his right to work wherever he wishes. That is all very well, but I cannot see how we will maintain ourselves if we allow our people to go abroad in such numbers.

The Minister will sooner or later have to address himself to the problem of stopping recruiting for British employment of all kinds. I do not think it is right or proper that those people should be allowed to recruit our workers in the manner they have adopted. We all know they have agents in practically every town in this country. They have head offices in Dublin and their men go on the road from Dublin contacting labour of all kinds throughout the country while at the same time our employers are calling for workers. It is ridiculous for us to discuss the serious problems we have been discussing while we permit this type of thing to take place under our noses. Either we are serious in the matter of agricultural and industrial development or we are not. If we are serious our first job is to keep our people at home, provided we are in a position to give them immediate employment, and I think we are.

A number of women are being absorbed in British industry, in nursing and in domestic service. They are being recruited by public advertisements in our papers and by agents who move around through the country. I want the Minister and the Government to consider some scheme by which relief can be given to the middle-class housewife. The domestic servant problem has become so acute in Ireland that married women with families are driven almost to the point of despair in trying to carry on. I think that the housewife who has a large family is deserving of as much consideration as any other section of the community, and the Minister should do something to assist her in her problem of rearing her family in decency. It is a serious matter, a matter that is causing grave worry to many sections of our community. Already there is a scheme in England by which the problem of domestic servants is being tackled in a fundamental way. These workers are being given a definite social status. There is a plan of training for domestic servants; they need no longer be called domestic servants or be regarded as menials. They are being given a proper training in hygiene and other matters and at the end of the training period they are given diplomas which are graded as first, second and third class diplomas. According to the diploma which they acquire, they are given an appropriate wage and as I said they acquire a definite social status.

I cannot see why we could not do something on the same lines here to raise the status of this particular section of our community by giving them a proper training in our vocational schools. In that way we would enable them to acquire a higher social status. This is a big problem for the Minister and the Minister for Education but it is one which should be tackled with vigour in the interests of our Irish women who are compelled to go abroad and sometimes to live in surroundings which are not, to say the least of it, conducive to the preservation of their religion. The Minister probably looks upon this as a problem which concerns the Minister for Education mainly but I suggest it is also one in which he should be interested. It is a problem I think in which the Minister should take the initiative and a beginning should be made now. It would to some extent solve the problem of finding suitable employment for many of our young women whom we want to keep at home if at all possible.

There is just one final word which I desire to say in reference to a matter mentioned by Deputy Corish. That is that the Minister should do something to decentralise industry. I have already mentioned this matter in the House. Too many industries are centred in Dublin. Between one-third and one-fourth of all Irish industries are located here. I want to support the demand made by Deputy Corish that, as far as possible in promoting industrial development, the Government should have regard to the urban areas of the country and that where it is possible to start a light industry, that industry should be started in the country rather than in the metropolitan area. If we are to stem the tide of emigration from the country the Minister should address himself to the problem of establishing industries all over the country, as far as possible from the metropolitan area. If that were done I believe it would to a considerable extent stem the flight towards the city and would definitely stem the tide of emigration to Britain. There is no evidence at present that the Minister is endeavouring to decentralise industry outside Dublin. I know it is a difficult problem, that all sorts of economic considerations have to be taken into account, such as water, electrical power, transport facilities, railways, etc. Nevertheless I believe that if a definite lead were taken in this matter, we could get industries decentralised or have some policy of devolution at least in this matter. Otherwise I fear that Dublin, as the head, is going to grow too large for the body.

There are two matters with which I would like to deal in this Vote, the first having reference to the steel industry, which Deputy Coogan thinks should be dropped altogether. I wonder what our position would have been during the past six years, in fact since the emergency started, if we had not steel in this country. How many ploughs would have been thrown by the wayside, or how many horses would have gone unshod? I wonder has Deputy Coogan thought of that at all? It is rather peculiar that while he suggests that an essential industry like the steel industry should not be operated as a State enterprise, he has no objection to having coal produced as a State enterprise. The Deputy said that he was sorry that a large amount of the money spent on turf had not been spent on looking for coal. I am afraid that if his advice were adopted a large number of our people would have died of cold while waiting for the coal to be turned out. In regard to this fuel industry, I am very anxious to know how the Minister fixed the turf areas and the non-turf areas of this country.

That is a hard one.

I find that my constituency, any portion of which is further away from a bog than Cork City, is scheduled as a turf area, while Cork City is scheduled as a non-turf area. The result is that the unfortunate man, living in Cobh, Midleton, Passage West, or Youghal has to pay roughly about 25/- a ton more for his turf than the gentleman living in Cork City or Dublin City. In addition to having to pay 25/- more for his turf, although we hear a lot of complaints about the subsidies given to the unfortunate farmer, the man living in these areas has to pay his share of the £5,500,000 which is given to subsidise the fuel supplies of Cork City and Dublin City. I have gone very carefully into the matter and I found that the difficulties of getting fuel during the past 12 months in Cobh were practically insurmountable. The Minister made an Order which completely prevented any timber going into the town of Cobh. Cobh, as he knows, is practically an island. Any timber coming from the east side, from the Youghal side, of Cobh, when it arrives at Cobh Cross, will be at a point which is equidistant from Cobh and Cork City. If the owner of that timber travels to Cork City, he will get 10/- per ton more for the timber than he would get in Cobh. Therefore, Cobh gets none. As regards the turf side of the problem, a lorry of turf coming from the bog area would have to travel 15 miles more each way if it were going to Cobh than if it were travelling to Cork. Still, Cork is a non-turf area, and Cobh a turf area. It is tough on the man who has to travel up from Cobh to the Ford factory in Cork, paying his rail fares up and down, as well as paying for his home in Cobh and who sees his comrades from Cork City working with him, who have no rail fares to pay, getting their turf for 25/- per ton less, and, in addition to having to pay 25/-per ton more, the unfortunate man in Cobh has to pay his share of the £5,000,000 provided to enable the man in Cork to get cheap turf. The Minister needs to revise completely the turf and non-turf areas. The present arrangement is unfair and unjust and is an imposition on the towns and villages in my constituency. One further point in this connection is that the Minister told us that, in respect of 8,300 tons of timber, Fuel Importers, Limited, were to get £20,000 for loss. That is about 50/- per ton, which is roughly the price the Minister allowed to be charged up to recently in Cobh for timber sawn into blocks.

The next matter is the transport position. Some time ago the Minister received representations from Córas Iompair Éireann with regard to an increase of 20 per cent. in charges. He received also notification from the organisation of which I have the honour to be chairman, the Irish Sugar Beet Growers' Association, that the organisation objected to this 20 per cent. increase, as the industry could not bear it. However, if we are to believe all we see in the public Press, the Minister has consented to that increase, without even hearing the representations of the beet growers' association. We have also had notification from the railway company as to the closing down of branch lines. I wonder does the Minister realise what that will mean for the beet industry alone. This company, which last year got roughly £300,000 for the transport of beet, is now to get another £60,000, despite the fact that when, in last year's Budget, there was a reduction in the petrol duty, that reduction went into the pockets of Córas Iompair Éireann and not towards a reduction of freight charges, and notwithstanding the fact that every other industry for which Córas Iompair Éireann caters is treated in a far different manner from that in which the agricultural community are treated in the matter of the transport of beet.

I will give the Minister a few figures which may enlighten him in the matter. Cement, unlike beet, has to be covered during transport, and cement is loaded and unloaded by Córas Iompair Éireann while beet has to be loaded and unloaded by the farmer. For a 41 mile journey, the charge for cement was 15/4 per ton before the 20 per cent. increase. A journey of 41 miles with a ton of beet is charged for at the rate of 19/6 per ton and the farmer must load and unload the beet. That is a difference of 4/2 per ton in the treatment given by Córas Iompair Éireann to merchants getting cement and the farmer. It is the same all along the line, down to the under-four-miles journey for which the charge is 3/2 for cement and 3/8 for beet, the cement being loaded and unloaded by the company, while the beet is loaded and unloaded by the farmer. It is time this kind of thing finished, or it will very definitely finish the production of sugar. When the negotiations with the sugar company last year in respect of the coming crop of beet were finished, we found ourselves in the position that we had got roughly 7/6 increase to cover increased wages and costings since 1943, which meant that the whole of the 7/6 was already gone.

Take now the position of the farmer living on any one of these branch lines which Córas Iompair Éireann now inform us they propose to close down. Take the farmer living in Bandon. When he signed his contract with the sugar company, he did so under the impression that he would pay 7/3 per ton for his beet. His railway is now gone, and, if he sends that beet to Mallow, he will have to pay £1 0s. 10d. I consider that an unjustifiable imposition by the railway company, and it applies to practically threequarters of the beet for delivery to Mallow factory. Station-masters on all the branch lines in Cork have got notice which means that the beet will now be conveyed by road and we will find ourselves in the same position as the farmers in West Cork, in the Courtmacsherry-Clonakilty district, for whom we had, a few years ago, to make a case before the Railway Tribunal. It was at the time when we had a court to go to in these matters and the case we made then was so glaring that the freightage was reduced in some cases from 15/- to 5/-. Now, it has been jumped, by the quiet removal of the railway, from 5/- to 25/-. The case we made on that occasion before the Railway Tribunal was that those farmers, who were compelled by law to grow wheat in order to feed the people, could not do so on that land without sea sand. That statement was borne out by the agricultural instructors for the county and the case was so unanswerable that the judge gave his decision in our favour. The railway company had to go back to the old rate. Now, we have, by the closing down of the branch lines and the driving of all traffic on to the roads, a complete monopoly given to Córas Iompair Éireann.

On several occasions, Deputies have put up a case for the giving of lorry plates to men who, at the beginning of the emergency, left their positions to serve the nation. When they got their gratuities from the State, they turned them into lorries so that they could earn their livelihood here instead of going abroad. These people are not to be allowed to go into competition with Córas Iompair Éireann. Last harvest, hundreds of tons of wheat, particularly in the County Tipperary, were lying in the haggards for five or six days in the condition in which the crop then was, because Córas Iompair Éireann had no lorries to take it away. Those people were like the dog in the manger. They had no lorries to take the stuff away but they would not allow anybody else to get a lorry to take it. The year before last, we sent a Corkman down there to thresh the wheat and afterwards draw it to the railway station. He was not 24 hours at the job when the intelligence officers of the Córas Iompair Éireann were on his heels and reported him to the Department. A "lattytat" came from the Department stating that he was "off the road" because he dared to draw wheat in Tipperary, having only a licence to travel within 15 miles of Cork. It did not matter whether the wheat in Tipperary rotted in the haggards or not. However, we got over that.

I suggest to the Minister that beet should be treated in the same way as turf and that every lorry should be allowed to draw it. Let every man who can draw it draw it and not have this monopoly which is squeezing the life blood out of the industry. The farmer I mentioned in the Bandon area will be growing beet this year at a return 22/1 per ton worse than that which he obtained in 1933. If the Minister thinks he is going to get sugar at that rate, he will find that he will not be giving even two ounces, that there will be no sugar to give. I suggest to the Minister that he should go into that matter immediately. There is no justification for those people, who put the reduction of the duty on petrol into their pockets last year, charging 4/2 a ton more for taking a ton of beet than for taking a ton of cement. There is no justification whatever for allowing these thieves to increase their freight on beet by 20 per cent. If the beet growers could bring their case before any tribunal, the charges, instead of being increased, would be reduced. I admit that the company succeeded in showing a pretty bad balance sheet this year. How did they manage to do that? On account of the strike, the beet did not go to the factories until their financial year was ended and the £300,000 they knocked out of the farmers who were growing beet last year did not appear in their balance sheet. That is how their balance sheet was fixed up to show this mournful case to the Minister, who gave them permission to make an increase of 20 per cent. in their charges. These are matters I want the Minister to go into. There is no justification whatever for the increase.

Neither is there any justification for having the two essential industries today—the two industries on which the fate of this nation depends: the production of food and the production of fuel—the two worst paid industries in the country. I should like if the Minister would produce a table showing the price of turf ricked in the bog and each addition to that price until it reaches the consumer. The Minister is well aware that the distributors of fuel have fallen down on their job. The agricultural community are still waiting for the paraffin oil they should have got in February. Tractors were held up this year for want of kerosene. Some tractor owners had not even enough petrol to prime their tractors. I wonder what steps the Minister has taken to see that these distributing bodies do their job. If we, farmers, fail to do our job, if we fail to plough the land and grow wheat to feed the nation, no matter what the climatic conditions are, we are landed into court. If the oil company, on whom we are dependent for fuel for our tractors, fall down on their job, to what court does the Minister bring them? We are, surely, entitled to be told that. Let there be one law for everybody. Let not the cement industry get a special grace from Córas Iompair Éireann while a farmer can be prosecuted if he falls down on his job.

The Minister is aware that the distributors of turf and coal have fallen down on their job as well. There are coal merchants in Cork who have been handed permits by permit holders, by the blacksmith who wants coal to shoe the horses and repair ploughs and harrows, and who finds himself without coal for that purpose, despite the fact that the Minister's Department has given coal permits to Cork merchants for them. If the profit is not enough, let us know what the profit is. I wonder what Minister will see that we have profit out of the wheat being sown now two months late, or on the potatoes that are going in now in order to feed this nation. Next harvest time, when all is done, we will be told that the price is 55/- or 57/6 and we will get no more, no matter what the conditions were when we put it in.

Let the agricultural industry be treated on the same terms as every other industry and let the farmer get from this nation at least the cost of production plus profits, the same as is guaranteed to every other industry. We find the coal merchants saying they would not accept the coal from Dublin as they were not getting enough profit on it, so the blacksmith cannot get it. I would like to know what would happen if we found ourselves two months late in setting our wheat and said we would grow no wheat as we were not getting enough profit on it, or if those who find themselves in this position with Córas Iompair Éireann, that the farmers were something like 20/- or 25/-a ton worse off than they were in 1943, said: "We will grow no beet, though we have contracted to do so." The Minister must step in immediately and deal with Córas Iompair Éireann as regards the transport of beet. If he does not, he will not get any beet. The farmers suffered enough during the past 12 months. When we were finished with a rotted harvest and started to pull the beet we had grown, we found ourselves faced with the strike. I wonder who is going to compensate the farmers for the hundreds of tons of beet that rotted in the fields and ditches, as it was impossible to bring it to the factory. The estimate given to me by the sugar company is somewhere between 17,000 and 20,000 tons of sugar lost through that strike. If the Minister is forming Labour Courts, I suggest to him that in all essential industries there should be some means of fixing a wage and fixing a term for which that wage will hold. Then let him deal with those people in the same way as he would deal with the farmer who refused to plough his land. We are entitled at least to that.

When the Minister was introducing his new Harbour Bill we appealed to him to put some representative of the rural community on the boards. Unfortunately, he refused and we find ourselves in Cork to-day with an antediluvian harbour board, a bunch of pirates fixed up above in the tail-end of a stream and like fleas who would be at the dog's tail, biting the tail and getting the tail to wag and anxious to get the dog to wag, too. It was only in the last month we had a flagrant example of that. There was a cargo of nitrate of soda brought in for these farmers to grow beet: it had to by-pass Cork and go to Dublin and come from Dublin in small boats again and be unloaded in Cork. The farmers had to pay 17/2 a ton more for that nitrate of soda on that account. That was 17/2 on to the price, owing to the fact that the Cork Harbour Board, situated in the tail-end of the stream, was not prepared to put in facilities below at the deep water quay in Cobh for unloading a cargo.

Get the harbour board to do it. The Deputy was a member.

I cannot make them and nobody knows why better than Deputy McGrath.

The Deputy is on it for about 20 years.

Yes, and what did I find there? I found this bunch of thieves there, and the Minister installed that bunch of thieves again and strengthened their hand by withdrawing all criticism of their actions. Deputies may laugh, but this is not a matter for a joke. It is a serious matter when you find that a cargo of nitrate of soda has to by-pass Cork port, come up to Dublin, be unloaded there and loaded on small boats to be taken back again, and that the agricultural community in Cork, Tipperary and Waterford have to pay 17/2 a ton extra for their nitrate of soda on that account. I do not consider it any joke at all. It is a condition of affairs that can be tolerated no longer—this idea of having the harbour board put on the tail-end of the stream. Why not let the Cork merchants do the same as Guinness has to do here, get a flatbottomed boat and come down to Cobh for their stuff, instead of spending the harbour dues on dragging the bottom out of the old stream every year trying to dig a hole for something to go up? I consider that the imposition of £3,570 on the farmers of Munster for one cargo of nitrate of soda is the biggest scandal I have seen for many years.

It is as bad as the coal.

I dealt with the coal when Deputy O'Driscoll was not here and I also dealt with the sea-sand when he was not here, I am sorry to say. I want a definite statement from the Minister as to the reasons for putting down as turf areas the towns of Cobh, Midleton, Passage West, Youghal and Crosshaven. I want to know the distance between the nearest bog and those towns and the distance between the nearest bog and the City of Cork, which he has made a non-turf area. I want to know why the urban population in those towns and the rural community in my constituency should have to pay their proportion of £5,000,000 odd towards the supplies of fuel for the people of Cork. I want to hear from him also his reasons for allowing Córas Iompair Éireann to have a preferential rate for cement as compared with beet and to give some justification also for the increase of 20 per cent. they are now endeavouring to impose on the beet industry. I also want to know from the Minister whether he will allow farmers who own tractors and trailers to take their neighbours' beet to the factory as well as their own, and whether he will allow rural lorries to convey beet to the factory. I want to know whether he is going to hand us over to the tender mercies of a monopoly—to Córas Iompair Éireann.

My contribution to this very interesting debate will deal only with matters affecting my own constituency. I should like, in the first place, to congratulate the Minister on the very satisfactory manner in which he pulled the country through the difficult period when many essential commodities were in very short supply. About November last, however, when we all thought that we had passed the danger point, difficulty again arose in getting for the community supplies of essential commodities. In October and November last permits were issued for the supply of kerosene in my district, but the fact is that no kerosene was available. It was not until February of this year that the people were able to get their October and November supplies. I wonder how would the Minister like to be living on a poor small farm at the most western point of County Cork during the long, dark and dreary winter nights if he could not get a supply of kerosene. The people down there work not an eight-hour day but an 18 or a 20-hour day attending to their household duties and to their farm work. Most of that work has to be done in the dark. Provision should be made, I suggest, to avert such a thing happening again.

As the Minister knows, last winter was a long and dreary one. Even at the best of times, farmers have to do a big share of their work at night-time. The winter day is short, so that a lot of work has to be done at night and artificial light is required. I had letters from people all over my constituency recently telling me that as late as March last they had not even then got their November, December, January or February allocations of kerosene. I saw in a local paper a few days ago that the people of the Inchigeela district have not yet received their January allocation of kerosene. The Minister did tell me, in reply to a Parliamentary question recently, that it is the distributing companies who are at fault. In my opinion, the Minister should have the same power over them as he has over the farmers. It is too bad that the latter should be left without their kerosene supplies.

I also want to refer to the scarcity of bread, butter and sugar. The Minister may not be too much to blame for this. Still, I think steps should have been taken years ago to see that such scarcities would not arise. We are living on an island, and that being so if our own resources fail we have to depend on an outside country for supplies. Since an Irish Government was first established practically nothing has been done to provide the country with a mercantile marine service. I remember that during the tillage campaign, when the former Minister for Agriculture came to address a meeting in Cork in 1940, I suggested to him the establishment of an Irish mercantile marine service that would be available to bring supplies to the country, if such supplies were needed. Nothing was done in that direction until 1942 or 1943. All credit is due to the Government for the move they made then in providing some boats. If they had done that in 1940, when I made the suggestion, they could have provided the country with better and cheaper boats.

There is another very important matter that I want to bring to the Minister's notice. All over West Cork the ploughing is done by the ordinary swing plough. The horses are shod by the blacksmiths just in the same way as they were 50 years ago. The blacksmiths need good coal to do that. During the last two months, and up to the present day, there is a scarcity of coal for blacksmiths in my constituency. I have had personal experience of it myself. About three weeks ago my son took a pair of horses to be shod, and some plough things to be repaired, to the local forge where we have been going for 30 years. The blacksmith is a good tradesman, but as he had no coal the plough parts could not be repaired or the horses shod. I know a number of blacksmiths in West Cork who, by reason of the fact that they have not been able to get coal, have had to close their forges. The Minister may reply that they are getting their coal allocation. The coal they are getting is useless. One blacksmith told me that the coal the Government are sending down would not burn in hell.

Maybe he was not far wrong.

They might not want it there.

I passed through Skibbereen a few mornings ago and one of the biggest merchants there, who distributes coal all over West Cork, told me that he had not a stone of coal in his yard. I think that agriculture is the one industry that should be kept going at the present time. The farmers, who are expected to produce food to meet the requirements of the people, and who are engaged in a life and death struggle in their efforts to do so—they are three weeks or a month behind with their work—should get first consideration. Their horses cannot be shod or their ploughs repaired if the blacksmiths cannot get supplies of good-quality coal. It may be that the Minister may introduce a new breed of horses that will not need to be shod.

I come now to the closing of the branch railway lines. The Minister, in reply to a Parliamentary question, told me some time ago that no branch line could be closed without his permission. I hope that he will not give his permission, but I desire to call his attention to the statement made by the chairman at the last annual meeting of Córas Iompair Éireann that it was the intention of the company to close down branch lines. If he tried it, he would be making trouble for himself. The Clonakilty - Courtmacsherry line was closed down recently. It was closed down on the usual excuse—there was no coal. The Schull and Skibbereen line was closed down. Previous to the closing down of the Clonakilty-Court-macsherry and Timoleague line, an arrangement had been made, in 1943, for the haulage of sea sand, for manurial purposes, over that railway. In the early part of that year the railway company raised their rates. I brought the matter to the attention of the Cork County Committee of Agriculture and it was decided to take the matter to court. Counsel was employed and evidence was given before the court and the learned judge who presided requested the railway company to amend the rates. The case was adjourned and after the lapse of a week or a fortnight the manager of the railway company wrote to me and asked me to call to see him. He submitted amended figures which I approved as they were a considerable reduction in some cases on the old rate and about 200 per cent. reduction in the rates they proposed charging before they were brought to court. Now they have increased the rates again far beyond what they ever were. If the people in these areas are to grow food, they must get the sand but they cannot draw the sand while the haulage rates are prohibitive. Córas Iompair Éireann make the claim that because the sand is being hauled by lorries, the rate must be higher. They forget that they would have to maintain their line if the trains were running whereas the ratepayers of Cork County maintain the roads for their lorries. I would appeal to the Minister to put his foot down on that kind of profiteering by Córas Iompair Éireann. If the people of Mid and West Cork are to grow crops for the benefit of the nation, they must get fair play and they should not be exploited by any profit-making company.

I appeal to the Minister to reopen the lines or branch lines that have been closed. Since they have been closed, the fairs in West Cork have been hopeless. The farmer who sells and the buyer who buys cattle do not want to put their cattle in lorries. Conveyance of cattle by rail has been and always will be a good deal more satisfactory than road transport, both to the seller and the buyer. I read in the paper a few days ago that a number of these lines are being reopened for the conveyance of cattle but I also noticed that none of the West Cork lines is being reopened. There are some fairs to be held in West Cork in a very short time and I hope the Minister will give the same fair play to West Cork as has been given in other parts of the country.

There is another matter to which I wish to draw attention. Recently a request was made by the Baltimore Harbour Board for a small grant to improve the harbour. The Baltimore Harbour is, and has been, a very important harbour. It is in the trade route between Europe and America. It was so important that 50 or 60 years ago the British Government built a railway specially from Skibbereen to Baltimore in order to connect Baltimore with the old Cork and Bandon line. They built an industrial school there. A pier was built there. Did the Irish Government ever do anything for it? Not as far as I know. There is a shipbuilding yard in the town of Baltimore. It may be on a small scale but ships were built there that went over the Seven Seas. One of them became famous. I think it was built specially for Mr. Conor O'Brien. But, the Minister says that considerable expenditure would be involved in making this harbour safe for larger vessels and the Minister does not consider that the prospects of Baltimore Harbour developing as a commercial harbour are such as would justify expenditure on navigational aids. But, if Baltimore were near Dublin it would be done all right. There is too much concentration in Dublin. Dublin is getting too big. Dublin does not keep up the country; it is the country that is keeping up Dublin. The Minister refused our request for a small grant. I ask the Minister to reconsider his decision in that matter and to take into consideration the importance of Baltimore, which is on the edge of the trade route between the old Continent and the new. Baltimore was there when Dublin was not. It gave its name to a very big city in America. At one time it returned two Members of Parliament to Dublin. It was the headquarters of the only Irish fleet we ever had until we got the Muirchu.

What happened in Baltimore is nothing to what happened in Bantry. For 60 years or more the Bantry Bay steamship was in existence, plying between Bantry and Castletown-Berehaven, a distance of 20 miles by water, it is 33 by road. About 50 years ago the railway line was extended down to deep water and there was a ratepayers' guarantee given for the building of that line, which bled the farmers of that country white for many years. At the terminus of that railway was a pier which the railway company were bound to build and to maintain according to the terms on which the extension of the line was permitted. But Córas Iompair Éireann, with the Minister's consent, evaded the responsibility. Before the time of the present Government or of the previous Government, the Great Southern and Western Railway Company—or the Cork and Bandon line as it was then called—got a controlling interest in the Bantry Bay Steamship Company. When the local people knew the direction in which Córas Iompair Éireann was moving last year they petitioned the Minister not to give permission to Córas Iompair Éireann to carry out their intentions. They applied for an Abandonment Order to evade their responsibilities to the people. That application of the Córas Iompair Éireann could not be granted without the Minister giving his consent to the Córas Iompair Éireann proposal. What could the Bantry Bay Steamship Company do then? Córas Iompair Éireann had a majority in it. They decided to run lorries in competition with the boats.

These boats, which were plying between Bantry and Castletownbere, could not approach the old pier at the pier head because the timber was practically rotten and it was too dangerous to do so. The railway company refused to repair it, but about half a mile away, on the other side of the road, is a county council pier. The Bantry Bay Steamship Company would have to haul the goods that distance of half a mile and the cost of that would be too much, so finally they had to withdraw the boat, and now 33 miles away from Bantry to Castletownbere Córas Iompair Éireann lorries are hauling this stuff. I always heard it said and I am sure everybody else did that it is cheaper to move goods by water than by road. It seems that the times have changed and that we have not changed with them. The taxpayers of the county are keeping up this road for Córas Iompair Éireann. This pier, which the railway company was bound to maintain, was a most suitable pier, because the biggest boats that come into the bay can come in there at any time. That is not the case with the other pier that is half a mile away. Bantry Bay is one of the finest bays in the world. It is 20 miles long by practically 15 miles or more wide. At one end of it is one of the beauty spots of Europe—Glengarriff. It was said one time—not so very long ago, too— that this bay could hold the whole British Navy. But to-day there is not a boat in that bay. Córas Iompair Éireann and this Government have caused it. The boats that were plying in that bay used to call to Glengarriff, call at Adrigoole, call at Castletownbere and deliver the goods at a cheap rate. Now, Córas Iompair Éireann lorries are hauling material over a road for which they never paid. They have raised the rates a good deal higher than the rates which were charged by the old Bantry Bay Steamship Company and the people of Bere Island, where the goods were landed at the quay in the island when the Bantry Bay Steamship Company was doing its work, have now to go across and haul the goods at their own expense.

I would like to point out that West Cork is a very poor district. The people there are one of the most hard-working people in Ireland for the simple reason that they have always had to work—otherwise they could not exist. But like everywhere else in this country of ours the flight from the land has set in there. All our young people, especially the girls, are going away. The girls are going to England, and the boys are drifting into the cities and towns. Some of them are even finding their way up here to Dublin. I would suggest to the Minister that these people cannot make a living at home and that he should take into consideration the poverty and the smallness of the little holdings there. He should take into consideration that if this flight from the land continues in poor districts these districts will not be populated again. It is only in recent years that such a flight has taken place as is taking place at present. Previous to the war many home industries were carried out, such as pig-producing and poultry rearing. West Cork was a great district for the pig industry and for poultry rearing. To make these industries a success in that district we must get maize and we must get it at a reasonably cheap rate. I have had considerable experience of those branches of farming myself because I was engaged in the work for many years. I say that they are the most suitable industries possible for a people who understand them and who are not afraid to work hard in order to make them a success. As I have said before, we must get maize to make these industries successful in West Cork. I would appeal to the Minister that a special allocation of maize should be made in the near future to the poorer districts—I do not care in what county—in order to enable the people of those districts who have not the land on which to make a living to supplement the little income they derive from their farms. They make nothing for six months of the year and they have to live on what they make in the other six months of the year. I appeal for the grant of a special allocation of maize to districts such as West Cork in order to help the pigfeeding and the poultry-rearing industries.

West Cork is very rich in minerals. We have barytes, copper, tin and many other minerals. It was suggested that gold was worked there at one time. All these industries are now closed down. I put a question about that matter to the Minister some two years ago. I asked him if he could arrange a survey of the district and he told me a survey was made about 25 years ago. I remember when that survey was made. It was the time of the Black and Tans. How could any satisfactory survey be made at that time? Had not the people enough to do to keep the Tans away? The people who came around making the survey were regarded by the ordinary population as belonging to the Black and Tans and they would not give any information to them. I appeal to the Minister to arrange for a survey of the mineral resources of that district. Even if there was a survey made 25 years ago there are more up-to-date methods now and a modern survey would be, in my opinion, much more satisfactory. There are more satisfactory methods of doing such work now and it might be advisable if another survey was made.

There was another fine industry at one time carried on at Brow Head, 15 miles west of Schull, County Cork. There were about 40 men employed there. They were engaged quarrying granite. The granite was carried over to London. Unfortunately, during the war the workings had to be closed down but the machinery is still in perfect order, and there is a caretaker in charge. If the Minister could arrange for a reopening of that quarry it would be a great boon to the district. The material was quarried beside the sea and it was loaded in ships at very little cost and taken over to London for building purposes. Surely, if it was necessary in London ten or 15 years ago, there is a greater necessity for it there to-day. I appeal to the Minister to use his influence to get these works going again and to carry out a mineral survey when a suitable opportunity arises. If he arranges a survey for the whole of Éire, I trust he will give special attention to this district.

There is another very important industry to which I would like to refer, and that is the fishing industry.

That would be more appropriate on a different Estimate. The Department of Industry and Commerce is scarcely responsible for the fishing industry.

I will refer to it in this way, and I think I will come within the scope of this Estimate. I refer to the fishing industry for the reason that the recently increased Córas Iompair Éireann rates will tend to kill it. Am I right?

There should always be a specially low rate for the transport of fish. The 20 per cent. increase that the Minister has consented to allow Córas Iompair Éireann to impose on our people is harsh enough, but if it is put on the fishermen it will simply kill the industry. I appeal to the Minister to take that aspect of the matter into consideration. If it is possible— and I believe there is nothing impossible to the Minister—he should fix a specially low rate for the conveyance of fish because just now it is an important article of food.

I would like to refer again to the fuel position in my part of the country. It was very bad in some towns in West Cork, but it was extremely bad on some of the islands off the Cork coast. I had to communicate on two occasions with Departments of the Government about the fuel position in the islands. Some of the people there were forced to burn their furniture and even their doors in order to cook their food. I had a letter from one man in which he said:—

"I am now burning the loft and I do not know what I will burn next."

I wrote to the Minister for Industry and Commerce and I also wrote to the Minister for Agriculture asking him to make representations to the Minister for Industry and Commerce. At that time there were people who had most of their hay and straw burned trying to cook food. That was in January and if they continued burning their hay and straw they would have had little left with which to feed the cattle.

I got a reply from the Minister for Agriculture saying he had made the necessary representations and I got an acknowledgment from the Minister for Industry and Commerce saying that the matter would be attended to. He telephoned to a merchant who was supplying the islands with turf and he asked the merchant had he sufficient turf. The merchant said he had about 100 tons but it was quite wet. I wrote a second time to the Minister pointing out that the existing position gave little satisfaction to the people on the islands. Cape Clear is one of the islands and it is nine miles off the coast. Why half the people in these islands did not die, I do not know. If such a position should arise again next year—and I hope it will not—proper provision should be made so that the people will not be allowed to remain without fuel.

I have put a good many points before the Minister and if I have put them in a backward way I trust that will not prevent him coming to a favourable decision. I trust he will give the utmost attention to the matters I have submitted to him.

I wish to refer to a few items, but probably they have been covered already by other Deputies. I desire to refer particularly to the application of the bread ration Order and to some of the anomalies arising from that application. I suppose it was inevitable that there should have been some hardships and anomalies in the operation of this scheme, having regard to the speed called for in its preparation. Indeed, I think the staff must be congratulated for the manner in which they grappled with the difficulties inherent in the scheme. None the less, there are some glaring anomalies and I want to refer briefly to the hardships imposed by this rationing scheme on people engaged in fuel production. I think that some of these anomalies might have been avoided if the Minister had prepared clearly defined categories of workers to whom the extra bread ration would apply. One of the first classes to come into these categories, as deserving of the extra bread ration, should be people engaged in turf production.

If there is one place more than another where workers are likely to develop a keen hunger, it is our bogs. I do not imagine that anybody working on a bog on private schemes of turf production is likely to be any less hungry than workers engaged on county council schemes. There would be no need to classify the various kinds of workers on these schemes if the Minister laid it down as a general principle that anybody engaged on any type of turf production would be entitled to get the extra bread ration. Of course, we all know that the Order would not have been promulgated were it not for the dire necessity of conserving our bread supplies and that there must be some tightening up of consumption, but I think it will be generally agreed that you cannot possibly exempt from the benefits of the additional ration people who are engaged in this most important work. Owing to the particular nature of their calling, they have a special claim to any allowances that are going. I feel that if the Minister will look into the matter, he will not have much difficulty in deciding that their claims are justified and that all turf workers are entitled to the extra ration.

I have received a number of letters from turf workers from various districts on this matter and I am sure other Deputies have received similar representations. I think that the problem cannot be satisfactorily solved in a piece-meal fashion, by dealing with individual cases. The best solution would be to deal with turf workers in general as a class who are entitled to the extra ration. We had also the anomaly where gangers on road works were refused the extra ration while road workers received it. Again quarry men and carpenters were refused the extra ration although the nature of their work involved absence from home in the same way as other workers who received the ration. I think that a lot of these inequalities could have been avoided if the Minister dealt with the various classes of workers instead of dealing with the various individuals in these classes. The Minister can have the assurance that there is no more deserving section of the community, in so far as the extra bread allowance is concerned than those engaged in work of such national importance as turf production.

I find myself in agreement with some of Deputy Coogan's remarks in connection with tourism but I should like fundamentally to disassociate myself from and to protest against, the indelicate epithet he applied to tourists in general. He said that they were not tourists but people in search of grub. If this House desires to alter its policy with regard to tourism, owing to the circumstances of the times, it is quite entitled to do so but, for many years past, people at the head of affairs in this country have thought it well worth while to develop tourism as an industry. For that purpose, we set up the Tourist Board and for many years previously public bodies throughout the country showed their interest in this industry by making grants to the Tourist Association. We were always told by people who knew what they were talking about that having regard to the natural charms of our country this was an industry which possessed immense potentialities. Since then the Government and the House have given practical support to tourism by establishing the Tourist Board and by putting substantial funds at its disposal. Owing to the serious upheaval in the last few years in world conditions generally, there has been a certain amount of "grousing" amongst our people at the fact that tourists are allowed in to consume the limited quantity of food which we had for ourselves. That may be a perfectly understandable attitude but at least we should approach this matter in a reasonable and commonsense way. We ought to consider the matter dispassionately and decide whether in present circumstances our previous policy in this matter should be altered, but I certainly object to any Deputy applying these disrespectful epithets to tourists arriving in this country. So far as I know, the bulk of the tourists who travel by air to this country are people who have been out of the country for years and years and who availed of the new method of crossing the Atlantic speedily to see friends from whom they had been separated for many years. Some of them had been 50 and 60 years out of the country. I do not suppose that Deputy Coogan would like to apply that epithet to our friends from the Six Counties. They are not tourists. They are citizens of this country and when they come to spend a week-end here they should be perfectly welcome. I regret that any responsible Deputy should approach a matter of this kind by making a reflection on these people. Personally, I do not want to abandon tourism but if there is to be any restriction or modification of the existing policy, because we are unable to provide for tourists, that is a matter that will have to be dealt with in a very serious and respectful fashion.

On the subject of State interference in industry, the Deputy did not appear to know his own mind because he seemed to favour State interference in one instance whilst condemning it in another. There is, however, one aspect of the matter on which I am in entire agreement with him and that is the prevention of the emigration of our people. I think he is perfectly right in that. All our efforts should be directed towards preventing emigration and absorbing our young people into industry in this country but I do not see how they are going to be absorbed into industry by private enterprise. Our industries are not sufficiently organised in my opinion nor is our agriculture sufficiently prosperous to absorb the number of young men and women who are now growing up and who are forced to leave the country because of absence of opportunity of employment. I think that much could be done by State intervention and by the promotion of State schemes of work to absorb all the available young men and women in employment until such time as private enterprise or agriculture can provide employment for them. There must be some permanent employment provided for them. I disagree with Deputy Coogan that that should not be done by State intervention. I cannot see any other way of doing it except by State intervention. National expenditure could not be devoted to a better purpose than providing work for boys and girls all over the country at reasonable rates of remuneration on schemes promoted by the Government until such time as private enterprise is able to absorb them.

I intended to make an appeal to the Minister on behalf of provincial harbour boards but having heard Deputy Corry I am rather timorous of doing so. I agree with other speakers that there is too much centralisation in Dublin. There is certainly centralisation of traffic in the Port of Dublin to the detriment of the provincial ports. At the risk of falling foul of Deputy Corry, I include Cork amongst the provincial ports which very badly need some diversion of traffic. A special Harbours Tribunal was set up some years ago and as a result of the recommendations of that tribunal, the Minister went to great trouble to introduce an Act under which new harbour boards were set up, representative of various interests, but there is a greater responsibility than that upon the Minister. These harbours cannot be allowed to die for want of trade. You cannot keep harbours and ports in existence in the provinces, unless traffic is coming into them. They proved that they were capable of handling traffic during the emergency.

We are told that there is a glut of shipping at the North Wall, due to the fact that all the ships are large. I believe there is a tendency at the moment to send goods in big ships, but surely all the small ships have not disappeared off the seas? Other ports, such as those of Limerick, Cork, Waterford and Drogheda, and even the small ports like Baltimore referred to by Deputy O'Driscoll—I could not leave that out for the world—all have their uses, but I am afraid there is a tendency towards a grab-all policy in respect of diverting all types of traffic to Dublin Port. The present congestion on the railways and the lack of services due to shortage of coal means that more and more stuff is being put on the roads, with resultant greater congestion, and I think it is a matter which requires to be taken up seriously by the Minister. I am glad to notice that harbour boards in various parts of the country are taking action in the matter, because it will mean the paralysis of these harbours and ports if they do not get a fair share of the traffic offering for the territories which they best serve. Dissatisfaction is being expressed at present with the delay caused by the congestion in Dublin. Goods are left lying for weeks, and cannot be removed and collected for delivery to the provinces. I hope the Minister will tell us something in connection with his intentions in this matter.

The closing down of branch lines is a matter which has been the subject of discussions by every Deputy who has spoken. I sincerely hope that the various rumours which have gained currency as to the widespread closing down of these lines are not as true as they would appear to be. We can understand the position at the moment in which Córas Iompair Éireann has closed down its services owing to lack of fuel, but it would be monstrous if advantage were taken of this abnormal circumstance to close branch lines permanently. The company, so far as I am aware, are bound, under the Railways Acts, to hold an inquiry when they propose to close down a line, and we have seen reports in the newspapers of resolutions passed with regard to this branch line and that branch line. I should be very slow to believe that the Minister will sanction the closing of any branch without holding a suitable inquiry and having a proper investigation made, at which the company can prove that it is essential to close the particular branch. If Córas Iompair Éireann gets free scope to close down all branches, like a tree from which all the branches have been lopped off, the main trunk will not live for long.

Some of us at one time had the suspicion, which I hope was ill-founded, that there was an anti-rail policy in the minds of the people in control of C.I.E. and one now begins to be suspicious that that idea is again coming to the surface. I believe the country can never get on without a rail service. Whether that service is economic or otherwise, it is essential, particularly for our heavy industries and, for that reason, these rumours are very disquieting. They are causing serious alarm and concern throughout the country, but I hope, as I say, that they are not as true as they would appear to be. I hope also that the Minister will afford every opportunity to inquire into all the aspects before giving sanction for the closing down of even one branch line. Once the descent on the slippery slope is started, there is a danger of accelerating and of going down too speedily.

Another matter of importance which has been referred to by several Deputies and with regard to which I have had complaints from my constituency is the lack of coal for blacksmiths. I was in communication with the Department and with the Minister in connection with this matter in an effort to get some coal for the city and county of Limerick for the carrying out of agricultural work. I made a certain proposition to the Minister, but he undertook to make other arrangements, and, since then, I have had several complaints as to the complete lack of coal for the repair of agricultural machinery. In places, the blacksmiths have not got even the coal which Deputy O'Driscoll complains would not light downstairs—they had none at all. I know plenty of blacksmiths who have not got any coal for weeks and in several cases blacksmiths have been closed for weeks for want of coal.

That is very serious at this important period of the tillage campaign. As other Deputies have said, you cannot plough unless your plough is in proper order, or do any other farm work unless your equipment is in good condition, and I should like the Minister to tell us what steps he has taken, or is taking, to have this very essential service attended to at once. I know where there is coal available, but the Minister does not see his way to use it. I feel, however, that the Minister should use some of the coal because blacksmiths should not be left without it at this juncture. I hope the Minister will tell us where that nest of coal is and will have it sent down at once.

This debate will be of considerable benefit not merely to the House but to the country in general if, after it, we are in a position to realise how difficult are present world conditions and how serious is our position in respect of supplies of many commodities which we cannot produce here or which we have not available as natural raw materials. It is obvious from the Minister's statement and from all the information at our disposal that the immediate future, and certainly the next three or four years, will present problems of ever-increasing difficulty, and will beset this country with difficulties which in the past we found comparatively simple to overcome. It will be in our interest to overcome these difficulties as best we can, but in order to do so, we must first realise the extent of our problem and the steps which should be taken to overcome it.

The most obvious problem requiring immediate attention is an increase in our production and in our supplies of goods, not merely for home consumption, but, in so far as trade generally is concerned, primarily for export. Much attention has been given to, and many statements have been made from time to time on the need for greater production, but merely making exhortations to industrialists, workers or farmers will not solve our production problem. No matter how beneficial speeches or words of encouragement may be, the fact is that a verbal lead will in no way overcome the difficulties with which farmers, industrialists and the workers in both branches of our national economy are confronted at present.

Industrialists are faced with shortages of many materials, not merely of plant and machinery, but of essential raw material, and the problems which beset them can only be overcome by an increase in the supply of these materials, an increase in the supply of plant and machinery, by better methods and more efficient operation of existing plant, by a supply of power to work, and, if possible, to extend that existing plant and machinery, and coupled with that, by harmonious relations between employers and employees. All these combined will assist the country to increase production and to surmount many of the difficulties which beset it. But when we realise the present world scarcity of supplies and realise that in this country, subject to certain exceptions, we are short of many of these commodities, we must consider what steps can be taken and what steps should be taken in order to provide ourselves with essential raw materials, plant and other necessary equipment.

It is obvious that if, in the future, we are to purchase raw material for agriculture or industry from England, we shall have to compete with a very heavy demand on the supplies there, and, not merely that, but, on the basis of their present economy, we shall have to provide something in exchange, either on a barter basis or a £ for £ basis by exporting live stock, agricultural produce or whatever surplus we have from secondary industry. That being so, we must primarily concentrate on that arm of our economy which will give us the greatest possible hope of a quick expansion, the greatest possible hope of a quick return. While there are commodities derived from secondary industries of which we have an exportable surplus, by and large, our capacity to secure goods from abroad, particularly from Great Britain, depends on our ability to export to them live stock and agricultural products. If we examine the figures of our live-stock exports over the past 14 or 15 years, it must be obvious to us that we must increase our exports of live stock. The trade statistics show that, last year, we exported about 490,000 head of cattle. In 1932, we exported 675,000 head. The value last year equalled, if it did not exceed, the value of our exports for 1932, but that is no great matter for congratulation. It is merely due to the greatly appreciated prices. From the point of view of securing from Britain a return on a £ for £ basis, it renders our present trade of comparatively small benefit. We must endeavour to increase our exports and live-stock products.

During the late winter and the present spring not merely were live-stock losses severe in this country but in Great Britain the estimated losses in live stock, directly due to the weather, amounted to about £20,000,000. Indirect losses attributed to the weather were estimated at £40,000,000. These figures may be subject to considerable revision but, no matter how they may be changed, they show that the British people are facing a problem of considerable magnitude—the problem of increasing their live-stock population, which, in present circumstances, is difficult, because, like ourselves, they are increasing their tillage and endeavouring to provide themselves with a considerable proportion of their cereal requirements.

In order to rehabilitate their herds and increase their live-stock population, they must seek stock from outside. The most convenient country for that purpose, and the country where the best stock is available, is this country. We have reduced, to some extent, our live-stock population. I believe we should increase it. I think that the prices for live stock, particularly cattle, will remain high for the next few years. So long as there is a shortage in Britain, the price here is bound to remain attractive. At present, the farmers are selling as many cattle as possible and unless they are to be placed in a position in which they will not have sufficient cattle for an expanding market, we must take steps to increase our live stock.

We must endeavour, too, to increase our supplies of surplus goods from secondary industries. For a considerable time, due to the emergency, we had barely sufficient to supply our own needs. That phase may be a passing one. But a serious drawback in increasing the supply of those goods is the supply of motive power. I listened to the Minister with care, and it was interesting to learn that the Electricity Supply Board are at present generating 550,000,000 units per year. The Minister stated that, having regard to the present needs of industry and of domestic consumers, the output would need to be doubled. But it is obvious from the plans which the Electricity Supply Board have in hand and to which the Minister referred, that, by 1951, they will not have doubled the present output. They will fall slightly short of that. By 1951, many of our present problems may be overcome or, if not, we may have serious reason for believing that they should have been overcome. Having regard to the figures presented by the Electricity Supply Board, drastic steps must be taken to increase the supply of motive power for industry either by securing from abroad supplies of machinery or, alternatively, securing for existing industries adequate suplies of coal. Those industries in a position to change over to fuel oil, should get supplies of that fuel.

Attention has already been given to the changing of coal-burning equipment to oil-burning equipment. While that has been done in a number of cases, many concerns are not in a position to change over as the capital expenditure involved by such a transition would be far beyond their means. I suggest to the Government and the Minister that an effort should be made to obtain, by agreement, a quantity of coal, not merely to supply essential industries but all other industries not in a position to change from coal to oil, until such time as we are in a position to meet a larger proportion of our needs from electricity. It is obvious to most people that, if we do not reach maximum output from the water-power, peat and coal generating stations by 1951, we shall find ourselves in far more serious difficulties than we are in at present. No steps should be left untaken which can in any way increase the supply of fuel for essential industries and other industries not in a position to provide themselves with motive power locally or from electric current.

The other serious problem that confronts us has to do with the supply of dollars. Considerable attention has been paid to that problem here and in Press articles and Press comments. We have to face this situation in a realistic manner and, not merely that, we must look at our strength as well as our weakness. It is obvious that at present our weakness is in the ascendant. Assuming the free convertibility of currency on and from July next and that that supply of dollars cannot in any way meet our needs, we must look around to see what steps we should take or what agreements we should make in order to supply ourselves with a larger dollar pool.

It seems to me that there are two obvious steps. We can come to some agreement with the British, whereby they will make available to us a proportion of dollars; but in our present circumstances it does not appear a feasible proposal or that, faced with their difficulties, they will be in any position to supply us with the necessary quantity of dollars or the necessary permit to convert sterling into dollars in order to overcome our needs and meet our requirements.

On the other hand, we can approach the United States for a loan. Anyone who has read the proposals which the United States has put forward or who considers this matter can see that the policy of the American Government is against, not merely restrictions on currency but against all trade restrictions, quotas, barriers and hindrances of any kind. These proposals were put forward as far back as November, 1945. Certainly, on and from the coming into operation of the Washington Loan Agreement in December, 1945, the writing was on the wall for those who proposed to trade with America or proposed to carry on any form of commercial enterprise with either America or, in the particular circumstances, with Britain. From that date, the British Government have endeavoured, particularly through the President of the Board of Trade, to increase their exports to America or to the hard currency countries. They have, in fact, subordinated home needs entirely to the requirements of an export trade. All during that time, that particular Minister and a number of others have laid stress on the vital necessity, from the British point of view, of exporting to the hard currency countries. That being so, the position presented itself, in so far as we are concerned, that we could not get—or certainly could not get easily—supplies of many commodities from Great Britain that we needed. We are faced with the difficulty—and it should have been a matter for earlier consideration by the Government here—that we have to consider what the prospects are of getting supplies of materials, if not from Britain, from the hard currency countries. But apparently, we have let the situation develop and we have to some extent awaited the unfolding of events before we faced up to the present acute position.

We are now faced with the position that, as from the 1st July, only the amount available from current transactions will be freely convertible. The Minister stressed the fact in his speech that the amount available from current transactions from 1st July will be inadequate to meet our needs. I think it is obvious to everyone that it will be grossly inadequate and we must get money from some source to provide ourselves with raw materials. If we cannot get it from the sterling area, we must consider the possibility of and all the results which must flow from the introduction of large-scale trade with America or with the hard currency countries. One possible solution is that we should export a larger quantity of our surplus and endeavour to secure a larger surplus here so that we can export both agricultural and industrial products to England and then, on a basis of agreement with the British, get supplies of certain commodities. I think that on the White Paper and on the recent policy as adumbrated over there for agriculture and live stock, we must inevitably in the future integrate our economy with theirs. The Minister adverted to that in his speech. At the present time and with the particular policy about to be put into operation over there, they will look to this country or to any other country in a position to offer them live stock for replenishment as well as for meat for early killing or dead meat for immediate consumption.

That being so, we should endeavour —and the sooner the better—to make an agreement with the British—and, if we can, it would certainly be to our advantage to make an agreement with America—whereby we would get supplies of commodities we need either in exchange, on a £ for £ basis, or that they will agree to sell to us a certain quantity of raw materials in exchange for a certain quantity of goods that we are in a position to supply to them. The proposals in the American paper for the expansion of world trade and employment laid stress on the desirability of not merely trading with countries with which in the past they have had trade agreements but with an expansion and increase in the trading possibilities of other countries.

Whatever may be the difficulties which prevented this country trading with Britain in the past, many of them were artificial, many of them may now present the Government with a problem in the sense that they have to some extent to abandon some of their past policy or past prejudices, yet I think the same may be said in England, where they have changed their outlook in many respects and have changed their policy. They have changed their plans for external trade and, that being so, it should not in any way obstruct the Government or prevent them from meeting the British face to face and putting our case to them in as vigorous a manner as possible. Due to past disagreements or the follies of past economic policies, we may have some differences, but in present world conditions, when many past dissensions are assuming smaller proportions in the face of the difficulties that are present, I think the Government—and certainly the Minister, who appears to be the only realist in the Government— should immediately take steps to see that we come to an agreement with Britain, whereby we will get coal and any other essentials we need and they will get in exchange for that, on whatever advantageous basis it is possible to make it, supplies of livestock, agricultural produce and surplus industrial products like textiles, beer, stout and spirits.

In the past, we had a trade with America for certain commodities and that trade has in recent times expanded so far as bloodstock is concerned. What the possibilities are of expanding that trade with America I cannot say, but I think there is considerable hope of expansion in bloodstock trade. At the same time, we ought to be in a position to supply an increased demand for spirits and liquor of various kinds.

In order to supply those needs, we must have available here or be in a position to import, supplies of barely. Unless we can say from our economy that we will get, either on a barter basis or on some other quota basis or whatever basis may be agreed on, supplies of commodities we need in exchange with other countries for commodities they need, or at any rate that they are prepared to buy from us, we cannot hope to maintain our employment here and expand our economy and so absorb more people into employment. It is, of course, true that any trade proposals, such as the American Government put forward and apparently are pursuing with vigour at the Geneva Conference, will react more unfavourably on a small country like ours than they will on any of the larger countries and may react more unfavourably on secondary industries than on agriculture. Be that as it may, we must face the facts, and they are that the Americans are pushing forward such a policy, and apparently are going to succeed in getting it carried. Certainly, it would seem as if the major portion of it will be put into effect so that restrictions, quota barriers and tariffs of all kinds will be drastically reduced if not entirely eliminated.

As the Minister has said, that will place this country in a new situation. So far as many of our industries are concerned, it will place them in the position in which they will have to produce commodities in face of world competition or at a price beneath it in order to supply our needs. While in the past we could and did take steps to ensure that our own industries would be afforded protection to a greater or a smaller degree, at any rate we did to a considerable extent protect many of these secondary industries. We are faced now not only with the difficulty of protecting them but with the additional problem many of them will have in getting supplies of essential raw materials. In face of these proposals, I fear that we must have if not a complete reorientation certainly a drastic reorientation of our outlook and of our national economy here, so that we can continue in existence, in so far as it is possible for us, all the secondary industries that we have established. If many of them were to cease to produce at the present time, the result would be serious dislocation and considerable hardship from the employment point of view.

In the past many workers, and quite a large number of employers, have feared the result of an excess supply of goods. That often meant large periods of unemployment. Workers naturally feel that, if they are to have the security and stability which continuous employment gives, a shortage of goods is desirable. On the other hand, many employers feel that a shortage of goods and certain sales is preferable to a surplus of goods and uncertain sales. I am of opinion that even if lingering fears of that sort should exist in the minds of either employers or employees every effort should be made not merely to wipe out all fear of a possible surplus of supplies, but that guarantees must be given by the Government that any surplus supplies of commodities there are will find a market—that the responsibility will devolve on the Government of ensuring that, any surplus in the supply of commodities which may at present be in short supply will find a market and that a market will be secured for any supplies there are of these commodities.

It is true to say that past trading practices throughout the world probably contributed to a considerable extent to that situation. The various trade talks at present in operation are designed to eliminate these serious consequences. Certainly, so far as we here are concerned a complete return to free trade, or a complete abolition of restrictions on the supply of goods, would inevitably have serious consequences for us. I think if we are not in a position to get a supply of dollar currency to trade with America that we must endeavour to minimise the effects of that by putting into operation here policies which will make us independent, as far as possible, of outside supplies. It was never more obvious than at the present time that our independence of outside supplies is comparatively limited. The Americans may find, if they push this policy too far, that in a short time they will be supplying not merely themselves but a great part of Europe with sufficient goods. If that should happen they will then be in the position that European countries, ourselves included, will not be in a position to buy from them. We will have neither the currency nor, for that matter, the need for these commodities. The conclusion to be drawn from these proposals is that hard currency either must be made freely convertible, or that large loans must be made available to those countries which at present are not on a hard currency basis or, alternatively, that the Americans will find themselves at the end of the next three or four years with a large surfeit of goods with no takers. The demand for their goods will leave them in the position in which they will return to mass unemployment which was so characteristic of their economy before the war.

There are some other matters that I should like to refer to. The first is the problem of our domestic fuel supply for the coming year. Whatever steps have or may be taken, I think it is obvious to everybody now that we will not have sufficient turf to meet our domestic requirements, or that, if we have it will be on a rigidly controlled ration basis.

If there is one thing more than another which the Minister's Department should do, it is to put into operation an effective system of domestic fuel rationing. The system in operation during the greater part of the emergency was unsatisfactory. It was satisfactory enough as long as we had sufficient supplies of turf, even of an inferior quality, but during the past winter, when the crisis hit our larger towns and cities, the really serious thing was that many of the suppliers were not in a position to meet their commitments, and that a number of those who, through one means or another, had supplied themselves with turf, were in a position to get further supplies, while many of those who had no supplies at all were left without. I have had numerous complaints from districts where bellmen operated to the effect that, when the fuel shortage came upon us, many of those bellmen, either because it was unprofitable or too difficult for them, ceased to serve those areas. The result was that in numerous districts very large numbers of householders were, for a time, left without any supplies of turf. It is true that the very poor, who are on the machine-won turf ration or who are supplies on vouchers, obtained their fuel supplies, but there were many people who, if not on the level of the very poor were certainly very little above it, were left in the position that they could not get adequate supplies.

I therefore suggest to the Minister that, as regards next season's supply, the first thing the Department should do is to put into operation a system whereby each household will get a ration of fuel on a coupon basis rather than on the basis of being registered with a bellman or other supplier. The present system has resulted in glaring anomalies and of very severe hardship on many families. I suggest that is the first step that should be taken, especially in view of the present limited supply conditions and of the possibility that during next winter we shall have smaller stocks of turf than ever before, even assuming that we have a better winter than the past one has been.

I should also like to say a word concerning the private turf producer. The Minister has stated that as from 1948 Bord na Móna are to undertake the responsibility of providing the turf needs of the country, and that from that date the county councils will cease to have the responsibility for turf production. I think that a good case can be made for transferring that task to Bord na Móna, provided they are in a position to do it. Many county councils were not in a position to engage in this work. Even if they were in a position to do so it meant neglecting other work or at any rate limiting the attention which they gave to other work. It placed extraordinary burdens on the county councils and on the ratepayers. A body like Bord na Móna should be in a position to produce turf more cheaply than the county councils, and if there is one result more than another that is likely to follow from the transfer of the responsibility from the county councils to Bord na Móna it is that turf will be produced at a cheaper rate and the supply of turf may be greater than we have had from the county councils and the old Turf Development Board.

For the coming year the problem for many private producers, certainly in the Dublin mountains, is a difficult one. One bog there was developed and extended and provided with road facilities by Bord na Móna. Two other bogs were provided with certain roads by the Dublin County Council, but a couple of years ago the county council came to the conclusion that they had already provided sufficient facilities, certainly for their own needs. That, however, was at a time before the fuel situation had deteriorated to the present level and when we did not anticipate as great a problem as we have at the moment. I would suggest to the Minister that either the Dublin County Council or Bord na Móna should forth-with provide roads from the bog and through the bog in order to assist private producers.

Many private producers have produced turf at great inconvenience and at considerable expense and, before transport was available, hardship was involved in getting to the bog. The least we can do is to provide facilities so that when the turf is won it can be taken off the bogs. At present the roads in two or three bogs are inadequate to carry the turf that has been cut on the bogs. Considerable attention has been directed in the Press and in the House to the rapid expansion of airways and airports here. The airports here and the expansion which has taken place in our airways reflect credit on those concerned. The services show that the company and the officials here are as efficient as, if not more efficient than, any company elsewhere. That the facilities which are provided at the Dublin Airport and at Rineanna are equal if not superior to those at any airport elsewhere has been acknowledged by air companies from abroad that have availed of the airports here and that have operated services from them. The cost of these airports and these facilities has been considerable. In a small country the cost of air development must inevitably be far greater and have a far heavier effect than in a large country. However that may be, no one would suggest that we should not have developed the airways or the air facilities which we have developed and made available here.

At the present time, when air development and everything connected with it is front page news and when the attention of the world is being paid to it, it may be pertinent for us to consider to what extent we should commit ourselves to competition with large American or continental companies on the transatlantic route. As I understand it, we have now three air companies in this country. We have Aer Lingus and Aer Rianta-one of them the maintenance or control company, and the other operating services from Collinstown to London and Europe and from Collinstown to Shannon and to Europe.

These services have justified themselves and we hope in future, with improvement in world conditions, that the income from these services will repay the expenditure or at any rate will to some extent repay the heavy expenditure. But, in the last few months we have also floated a company, Aerlinte Teoranta, with a capital of £5,000,000, and we propose to engage in transatlantic services. I understand that one reason for the proposed transatlantic services is that in order to maintain the position in the airway world you must maintain prestige. Apparently, it is generally believed that prestige can be maintained and improved by operating transatlantic services. But, whether it is wise for this country to engage in transatlantic services with large American companies with practically unlimited financial resources, that are accustomed to dropping £1,000,000 or £2,000,000 here and there without feeling serious repercussions, is a matter on which we should reflect before committing ourselves to it. The fact that these large American companies consider as mere chicken feed what to us would mean heavy losses is no reason why we should engage in competition with them or why we should promote world services in order to carry on a trade which cannot pay us or cannot in any way recompense for the expenditure involved.

The development of airways and everything connected with air traffic is expensive. The fact that we have been able to operate European services and services between this country and England satisfactorily and with considerably increased prestige reflects credit on everyone, but whether or not we should embark on a transatlantic service, involving heavy commitments, in order to maintain prestige, is a matter about which I have considerable doubts. It may be that ultimately the transatlantic services will benefit not merely from passenger traffic but from freight cargoes and that with extension in trade between this country and America we would be able to avail of these services but, at the present time, when we are short of dollar currency, I cannot see how we can hope to get sufficient aeroplanes to service that particular transatlantic route without seriously interfering with our economy and without placing a heavy burden on our people.

It would be unwise, in present circumstances, to be too much swept off our feet by the glamour of a world airway service. We have to consider every possibility in regard to air development before we can come to a conclusion as to the position of Rineanna. It may be that the free airport which the Minister opened yesterday will have good results there. I hope it will. But, whether or not it will result in the maintenance of the present rate of traffic and in an increase of American traffic to Rineanna is a matter on which at present we cannot express an authoritative opinion. I should like to refer to one other matter. During the emergency a fairly considerable number of aliens came into this country. Some of them were aliens and some of them were non-nationals—so far as I am concerned it does not make a great deal of difference. Many of them engaged successfully in business here. I think that our efforts should be devoted to providing facilities for our own people and that so long as any of our own people require facilities from a State Department that no aliens should be considered. Many people view with considerable apprehension the extension of the business grip which aliens have got in this city. I would like the Minister in his concluding remarks to deal with this matter. I think that the figures which I was able to get from the Department of Justice do not accurately display the position.

The number of aliens who came in, taken in conjunction with our population or with the number of people who left this country, is not very considerable, but when we see so many of these people getting into successful lines of business in this country, very often lines of business into which our own people have not been able to get or in which they have not been successful, then I think we should seriously consider the extent to which these people have been operating here during the emergency and since the end of the war. It is a matter on which there is high feeling in the city. Country Deputies may not feel the effect of these people to the same extent, but any one living in Dublin or in the surrounding districts realises the truth of what I am saying—that there has been an alarming growth in the number of aliens in this city in recent times who have engaged in trade of one kind or another.

Finally, I would like to say that I look forward, as I think the House does, to an indication from the Minister in his concluding remarks as to the proposals which the Government have for a trade agreement either with Britain or with America. We realise, and I think the country realises, as a result of all recent discussions, recent statements, publications, articles in the Press, etc., that our position may be serious—some of these articles may exaggerate the position one way or another—but no matter what view we take of it we must come to some agreement in order to provide ourselves with the supplies of materials which we have not got and at the same time sell supplies of products, either industrial or agricultural, which we have. I urge the Minister to exert a vigorous influence on the Government, because the first people I think to whom the Minister has to bring home the present situation are the members of the Government. I think the people in general are coming to realise the seriousness of the situation, but the one group of people which does not appear to realise the gravity of the present position is the Government. It is a matter of some satisfaction if one Minister realises it, but the responsibility devolves on him to bring it home to his colleagues and to the country.

I believe that the Dáil would sanction any proposals to trade on an amicable and sound economic basis with any country. Whatever past differences or problems may have presented themselves to us, in the present world condition and in the present position in which many countries find themselves, our whole aim and efforts should be devoted towards an extension of our trade not merely at home but with any countries that are prepared to trade with us.

The Minister's statement will put an end to a number of arguments which have been current lately especially since the fuel situation became acute. There were three questions on the Order Paper to-day concerning the closing of railways and several Deputies here mentioned the same thing during the debate.

In Country Meath we have a branch line and there are rumours that it is definitely going to be closed down. It runs from Athboy via Trim to Kilmessan and quite a number of people tell me that it would be a very considerable loss to the district if that line were closed down. It serves a large part of Westmeath and carries quite an amount of live stock to the Dublin markets. It also carries quite a large amount of wheat. This district is a particularly good wheat-growing area and I think that if all the work is thrown on the roads the roads will not be able to carry the traffic. It is possible that the main road from Kells to Dublin, via Navan, would be able to bear that traffic but the road from there to Dublin is not, of course, a main road—it is only a secondary road and it could not possibly carry the traffic. We hope, of course, to provide a large amount of wheat. For the last three or four years quite a large amount of wheat was left out. It was not collected sometimes for a fortnight and, as usual, farmers with badly equipped farms, not having capital and not having accommodation, had no place to store that wheat except on the scrub. Quite an amount was lost in that way. Of course I know that last year was a bad year but in any event quite an amount of wheat is lost in that way.

I think that that railway line should be kept open. I am sure it will be. It may be only a question of shortage of coal. I could not conceive its being closed down but, even if it is not closed down, I think the Minister should seriously consider the provision of granaries in such centres as, say, Trim, where grain could be collected and dried and despatched from there, as required, to the mills in Dublin or elsewhere. That would save an enormous amount of loss. Wheat could be taken there, dried and stored. I have no idea what the cost would be. It is one of the things that is absolutely essential in a damp climate like this. I do not see any hope whatsoever of getting wheat or foodstuffs from other countries, and if we do they will actually be as dear as our own. The United States and the Argentine and all these other great wheat - growing countries are now almost exhausted, and they have to use artificial manures to produce their wheat just as we have to and the cost will be just as high. I do not visualise for a moment that we will ever get back to the time when we could get Indian meal, etc., for practically nothing. If such a time does come, they are going to come at the same price as we can produce them here. Grain drying is a thing which should be seriously considered. We are compelled to carry on producing. We cannot produce without the necessary equipment. Modern conditions demand certain processes and we must have the machinery. I believe that the question of the provision of granaries should be seriously considered by the Government.

I should like to refer to the question of peat production. I notice that this will be the last year that the county councils will operate peat production. In County Meath the county council is engaged in peat production. The amount is not very large but still it is a reasonably good contribution and there are some 600 or 700 men working on a bog at Derrynahinch in the western portion of County Westmeath.

Bread is rationed, and these men have to travel long journeys. In fact, I am informed on very reliable authority that, really because of the shortage of food, these men are not able to give of their best. I will ask the Department of Defence to lend or give a field kitchen or two to these men so that they may have a hot meal during the day. Whether that can be done, I do not know, but I hope the Minister for Industry and Commerce will see that it will be done, because production could be greatly increased if a hot meal could be given to these men during the day. Meath is a sparsely populated county and some of these workers have to travel a long distance.

Some Deputy in the course of the debate mentioned what I think a very important thing, and that is domestic help. Farmers' wives now have a very considerable burden thrown upon them and since the bread shortage the burden is heavier still. Anyway, it was bad enough because they had to provide food for a very large number of men. Last year was a very wet year, and the burden was even heavier. We had quite a number of voluntary helpers, and I take this opportunity of thanking all those voluntary helpers who came to County Meath, not alone from Dublin but from the village and towns in Meath. I thank them for all they did, and I may say that, but for their help and assistance, conditions would have been much worse.

They had to be provided for; they got good dinners and teas. That also threw an enormous amount of work on the housekeeper. Domestic help is absent for some reason or other, possibly through emigration. Girls cannot be got to help in the house, and I think that is mainly due to the fact that it is supposed to be a menial job. So far as I know, the wages are almost as good here as in Great Britain. I trust the Minister will give some consideration to that fact and see if something could be done to raise the status of what is known as the domestic servant and give that type of person more encouragement to stay at home and take up employment here. The domestic help is a very important person on a farm.

This has been a very long debate and I think it was a very exhaustive one. I am sure it will put an end to numerous rumours that were going round the country. That is one of the advantages that I see in the Dáil meeting regularly. During the war, when we did not meet for some considerable time, the country was full of rumours. I am sure it is a consolation to every Deputy, whether on the opposite benches or on these benches, that we have this method of putting an effective stop to these rumours. I am very glad this debate has taken place and that quite a number of these matters have been cleared up.

I would like to refer to one matter which was dealt with by other Deputies, and that is, the closing down of some branch railways throughout the country. This matter of the closing down of some, and the possible closing of other, branch lines has caused great comment all over the country. Everyone will admit that no country can develop itself without a good rail service, either for passengers or for ordinary goods traffic. Because of the great scarcity of coal during the emergency, the railways company found itself up against a very serious problem.

I would not like to entertain for a moment the idea that any branch line or any part of the railway service should be closed down permanently. I suggest that some of the branch lines could be electrified; they could use electricity on the lines in the same way as it has been used in the cities on the tramways. A very small service would do these branch lines, and I am of the opinion that a lot of the trams that are scrapped or are going to be scrapped in this city could be usefully employed if there were overhead cables established along the railway lines and connected with our national electricity supply. That would obviate the necessity of importing fuel. Further, the goods traffic would not be too heavy. It would be only on fair or market days that we would use goods trains, and that would help to curtail the consumption of fuel. I see no reason why these electric cars could not be used on the railways, even on the main lines, for passenger services.

In this country at one time there was a general laugh at the Shannon scheme. Where would we have been during the emergency were it not for the Shannon scheme? I see no reason why the rivers in this country, if they were properly harnessed, would not supply enough electricity to run a service on the branch lines and also on the main lines. Take the section from Dungarvan to Fermoy. We have not a passenger service there now. If we had electric cars running there from one junction to another, so that we could connect with bus services, we would be doing a good day's work. The electricity supply would not cost so very much if we harnessed the rivers.

The Department should give serious consideration to the suggestion of providing electric cars on those lines, particularly when they are scrapping them in the city. The main reason for scrapping them is because of the noise, and they are considered a nuisance. They would not be a nuisance in the country areas. I suggest there should be a smaller type of engine for carrying goods on the branch lines, and it could be worked on fuel oil. These are ideas that could be developed to the advantage of the people. The idea of closing down the branch lines is a very bad one, and it will have a detrimental effect on the people who are served by the branch lines.

The closing down of the railways is bound to affect the maintenance of roads. Where such railways are closed, the bulk of the traffic will be diverted to the public highways. We all know the railway companies maintained their permanent ways. If such transport is now diverted to the public highways, it will become a very serious burden on the ratepayers. When the Transport Act was being discussed here, I pointed out that the diversion of transport to the roads would mean a very serious hardship on the ratepayers. If such transport is put on the public highways, the day is coming when the State must take over the maintenance of at least the main roads which would be carrying such traffic. As every Deputy knows, the roads are not able to stand up to the heavy motor traffic. I hope the Minister will seriously consider providing electricity for the small branch lines, and so avoid the necessity of placing an undue burden on the ratepayers.

Several Deputies dealt with coal production. It is possible that we may be able to produce some coal here, but we never will have as much coal as we got in pre-war days, and for that reason the production of turf becomes a very important matter. Before I deal with the production of turf, I would like to say that if there is any possibility of developing our coal resources, there is no reason why it should not be handled immediately and so keep at home the young men whom we are exporting to Great Britain in order to provide coal for the people there.

Why not keep these young men here at home if there is a possibility of developing our coal mines? They will be an asset to the country while engaged in production at home. Everything they buy will assist in keeping some other industry in being—woollen industries, shoe factories, and even the production of food by farmers. The development of one industry would mean the development of some other industry. If there is a hope of developing these coal mines, I suggest that the Minister should go ahead in an all-out effort to do so. It is quite possible that we shall never again have as much coal as we had in pre-war years, a consideration which brings me to the question of the production of turf. For years past, we have all been trying to suggest the best means of producing and handling turf. Certainly it must be said that in a good many areas last winter what was sold to our people was not turf but wet clay. The type of turf that has been shipped by Fuel Importers from Waterford to Dungarvan was fit only for top-dressing. That is a shocking state of affairs, considering that there was a number of enterprising merchants who were quite prepared to go further afield to procure proper supplies of turf but they were told that they would not get the subsidy if they did not take their supplies from Fuel Importers, Limited. Is it because we have set up a fuel monopoly of this kind that enterprising people in our local towns are refused the subsidy when they try to get the people good-quality turf which is not obtainable through Fuel Importers? I think the Minister should see to it that whereever such fuel is obtainable, the subsidy should be payable.

Deputy Cosgrave dealt with the production of turf by private producers on mountain-sides. I am also very keenly interested in private producers and I believe that more facilities should be made available for them. I raised here some time ago the question of providing some protection against the weather for these producers. I suggest that huts should be provided for the producers on the mountain-side. I must say that our county council placed a number of orders for huts for these men but the huts have not arrived yet. I believe that the Department of Defence have a number of such huts available—at least the Minister stated that huts would be available when other Departments had been supplied. Obviously the most important Department in this matter is the Department which is in charge of fuel production and I suggest that such huts as are available in the Department of Defence should be taken over immediately and that the Minister for Industry and Commerce should get in touch with the Minister for Defence to ascertain whether these huts could be made available for local authorities who were decent enough to provide them for turf producers working on the mountain-side. One could not expect workers to remain out on the mountain-side without any protection on a morning such as this was, and it would encourage production if such shelters were made available. The men are prepared to pay a nominal rent for them. Some of them are even prepared to use them as sleeping quarters at night.

I suggest to the Minister that in order to ensure that turf of a good quality will be supplied to consumers, turf should be sold by measure rather than by weight. Selling turf by weight is an encouragement to market turf which is not burnable at all, whereas if it is sold by measure, you will ensure that the consumer will have a reasonable prospect of getting dry turf. That is a matter which should be very seriously considered by the Minister, particularly where private producers are concerned. If private producers were allowed to sell by measure, consumers would have the satisfaction of knowing that they would get a fuel that they could burn.

Whilst I am on this question I should like to make a brief reference to timber fuel. I consider myself that there is a lot of timber available and I think the Department opened the way to abuses when they increased the price in the country to £3 per ton. Recently when the question was raised here, the Minister for Lands stated that 40,000 tons of timber were available to be distributed for fuel. A few days later, the price of timber was increased by £1 per ton which meant that the public were robbed of at least £40,000. I think that is bad business and it is very unfair that any Department should be allowed to get away with it.

In connection with the development of rural electrification, I would like to suggest to the Minister the possibility of operating small power tractors by electricity. These tractors could be fitted with storage batteries which could be charged at the local charging stations. If that were possible, it would save the country the huge sum which is being spent year after year in importing fuel oil for tractors. I have no doubt that small electrical tractors could be produced and utilised in this country in the manner I have described. There is no doubt we are going through a very serious emergency regarding tillage. An all-out drive has been asked for by the Department from farmers to produce food for the nation. The farmers have done their best but the Departments are not doing their best. Recently I got a wire from a tractor owner to say that he was held up because of absence of supplies of petrol. I showed that to the Minister and on his suggestion I rewired it to the Department. I later discovered that that man had to wait ten days for the petrol. If we are to encourage food production, why should a tractor be kept standing idle for ten days? I asked the man afterwards if he got the petrol, and he told me he had to wait ten days. There is something wrong in the Department when a man is left ten days waiting for a supply of petrol at a period when tillage operations are so belated.

Next door to me at the moment, there is a tractor awaiting petrol for the past four or five days. I am getting in touch with the Department tomorrow, but I do not know how long more that man will have to wait for his petrol. I hope the Minister will get in touch with the Department concerned with the allocation of petrol for tractors and see that there is an immediate despatch of that fuel.

Recently, we had references to the domestic paraffin supply and several Deputies have raised the point from time to time, particularly Deputies Murphy and O'Driscoll, in relation to the West Cork area. Many complaints have been made to me recently in connection with the matter and I am satisfied that it is not entirely a matter of the difficulty of providing transport. It is, to my mind, due to the fact that there are two companies competing against each other in seeking custom in the post-war period and the sooner the Minister investigates that position and sees to it that there is a proper delivery of kerosene to every area, no matter how remote, the better. It is not the fault of these people that their areas are remote from supply stations and they should not be left without their ration, and the Minister should see that instructions are issued to the companies to supply this fuel to the people.

With regard to industries in rural areas and urban towns, I believe the Minister should do all he can to encourage these local industries. The general tendency is to have all industries located in Dublin or some city like it. The idea underlying that tendency is the matter of manpower. The workers are being drawn up from the country and in many cases these men are depriving city men of employment in these factories, with the result that we have complaints about the huge numbers on the unemployed list in Dublin. More decentralisation of industry would be much better and would give greater service to the nation, because, if you draw people to the city, you must bear in mind that you must follow them up with supplies of food, fuel and so on, which means an overlapping of transport and costs in bringing the commodities they require to the particular centres.

In my own town of Lismore, in the past five or six years, hundreds of young men and women have gone away to England and elsewhere to earn a living because there is no livelihood to be got in the town. The three or four industries we had some years ago— sawmills and so on—have all closed down, and I suggest to the Minister that the placing of industries in rural areas to a greater extent would be well advised for many reasons.

Several Deputies have referred to the supplementary bread ration. There is reason to complain in that respect, although I believe that the Departments concerned are handling it as well as they can. It is, however, amazing to me that, in the case of county council workers referred to by Deputy Keyes, some men are getting the supplementary ration, while others are not. That is very unfair. These men work at a considerable distance from their homes and most of them have to take their midday meal with them, and I think the best way of meeting their case is the way in which we dealt with it on our local council recently, that is, the county surveyor should send the number of men employed to the Department so that they would get their supplementary ration.

The same would apply to agricultural workers who have to cycle some distance to their work. It is not always the case that agricultural workers who live adjacent to a particular farm work with that particular farmer. It may be the man two or three miles away who has to cycle to his work who works there, and I suggest that any man who can satisfy the Department that he walks or cycles a certain distance to his work should get the ration. In addition, there are a number of fishermen on the Blackwater in my area and I know that three of them in a particular boat of four get the ration, while the other man is denied it. I cannot for the life of me see why three should get it and the other should be refused. All these fishermen should get it and there should be no exception.

With regard to carpenters, I got in touch with the Department in connection with the case of a carpenter recently. This is the case of a man employed at what might be called contract work by farmers, and men of that type should be encouraged to the full. Not only are they away from home for their midday meal but they have to work late at night, because at four or five o'clock in the evening they may be called on to do a repair job on a corndrill or cart. Men of that type should get the supplementary ration. Young children should also get the ration, and particularly children who have to travel a distance to school. They have to carry their lunch and it is a great hardship on the people at home because, small as their lunch is, three or four youngsters will take away a man's ration for the day. I ask the Minister to give favourable consideration to these points.

When presenting his Estimate the Minister referred, amongst other matters, to grants under the Harbours Act and referred particularly to a particular grant to the Dublin Port and Docks Board of £500,000 in connection with the new graving dock. So far as the Port and Docks Board is concerned, the board expresses deep appreciation, not alone for the grant but the manner in which it was made, but in view of the fact that that grant is now put in the list of grants to other ports, it is desirable that it should be placed in proper perspective. The Minister will agree with me that the consideration which largely influenced his decision on that occasion was the fact that the grant would have the effect of very materially helping the local shipbuilding industry, a very commendable decision and one with which, as I say, the citizens of Dublin particularly will be in agreement.

I mention that in order to put that grant on one side as against the requirements of the board which are considerable just now in relation to its domestic training policy. The board's requirements for some years, but particularly in the recent past, have been largely influenced by Government policy. Vital and fundamental changes are now under consideration and will have to be brought into execution very soon to meet the altered position. In connection with these matters, a very considerable programme of new works is on the stocks, a programme of which the Minister has been fully advised and on which the board hope to get a favourable decision in the matter of financial assistance from the Minister. I feel it desirable to make a distinction between the grant in so far as it relates to the graving dock and the other requirements of the board so that the position of the board now will not be prejudiced by the previous decision.

A question that agitated the minds of members of the House, particularly on this side, and which was aggravated by certain circumstances during the emergency, was that of reciprocity regarding unemployment insurance benefit. The question does not dominate other problems now as much as it did during the years of the emergency. Nevertheless, the problem still remains. The Minister indicated from time to time that he was negotiating with the British Government regarding the matter but the hardships still remain. An individual who goes across to work in Britain and has his cards stamped there does not qualify for unemployment insurance benefit if he returns here and finds himself out of employment. He has to fall back upon an undesirable form of assistance—unemployment assistance. I should be glad if the Minister would, when replying to the debate, indicate to what extent his Department has advanced in the settlement of that problem. I know that there has been an advance in respect of ex-soldiers. But ordinary individuals are, so far as I am aware, in the same position as they were previously. Another vital question is that of workmen's compensation.

The Deputy appreciates that these services have now been transferred to the Minister for Social Welfare.

I particularly asked, when the Department of Social Welfare was being set up, if workmen's compensation would come within the purview of the new Minister.

It has since been transferred.

I was categorically informed then that the service would remain with the Minister for Industry and Commerce. The transfer of the service will shorten my remarks. I should have liked to offer some criticism in connection with the inadequacy of the 1934 Act. My main reason for rising was to draw the Minister's attention to the serious position which has arisen in connection with housing in the City of Dublin. On the 26th of last month, I asked the Minister for an indication of what the position in regard to timber this year and next year was likely to be. The Minister gave certain figures and made the disquieting statement, in reply to a further question, that only 25 per cent. of normal supplies of timber would be available this year. The Minister referred to certain prohibitions in his opening statement in respect of the building industry and suggested that certain alternatives to timber might be provided. The citizens of Dublin should know all about the position. There is a vague suggestion abroad that housing is moving along lines which are not too well defined. In the survey of housing made in 1938, requirements in the city were put in the region of 18,000 to 20,000 houses. In normal, pre-war years the municipality built about 1,500 houses a year. In one year, they built more than 2,000. I am glad to say that we were the only municipality which, during the war years, continued to build. We were fairly successful, largely due to the fact that we were able to fall back on native timber.

A rather alarming position arose last year. During the emergency, we were able to build about 800 houses a year. Last year, that figure fell to 600, largely due to shortage of building operatives and of supplies of a general character. From the figures I have obtained, the position is going to be very much worse this year. The number of new houses being handed over at present averages only about 40 per month. That figure may be speeded up in the later portion of the year but that would give us only about 500 houses. We are on the downward grade. We must relate that figure to the 20,000 houses which were estimated to be required in 1938, to the wastage which has occurred since and to the number of young people who are seeking houses. These factors combine to present a very serious picture. I suggest that this is a social question of unparalleled gravity so far as Dublin is concerned. I find it hard to suggest a solution for it. Pressure should be brought to bear on every quarter to ensure that materials will be available. The supply of materials has been the main problem up to now, though building operatives presented a problem for some time. I put down a question to the Minister for Social Welfare as regards the labour available for building and I was amazed to find that last month, in Dublin alone, 679 skilled building workers and 1,000 unskilled workers were registered as unemployed. Throughout the country, 989 skilled and 1,635 unskilled workers were registered as unemployed, giving a total of 2,600. The question of personnel, therefore, seems to be solving itself. As to how far these figures were influenced by the shortage of cement, which is of comparatively recent occurrence, I cannot say.

The Minister was hopeful when the building employers were fixing up their agreements with the operatives that the conditions offered would be such as would induce a large number of building operatives who had gone to the other side to resume their domicile here. I understand that there is no great flow of traffic in that direction. The central position seems to be that there is a number of unemployed, skilled as well as unskilled, not alone in the city but throughout the country.

From a letter which I saw recently from one of the leaders of the trade union movement, I gather that it will be difficult to induce the operatives who went to the other side to return until one condition is incorporated in the agreement which has been entered into—guaranteed employment. That is the vexed question in the building industry. Apparently our own people who have gone across to the far side are prepared to accept the conditions there in the certainty that their employment will continue over a very long period.

I am drawing the attention of the Minister to it here, as I am wondering to what extent, for instance, our representatives have succeeded in their quest for timber. I know some of them did go across to Canada and other timber countries recently. Can it be suggested that there are any other sources open to the Minister—looking upon the situation as we see it here at present as having reached a crisis stage —or that he could open up new channels of supplies, especially of timber? Frankly, I regard the position as extremely disquieting and it is inevitable, from the figures we have before us at the moment of the availability of supplies, that that disquieting position is likely to last for a considerable period. In other words, there is very little hope for our people who were expecting houses from municipalities. The Minister will not like to hear that there are some unfortunate people, declared suffering from tuberculosis, on the books of the corporation housing department and, notwithstanding that they have priority so far as allocations are concerned, they cannot be given houses because of the shortage at present. I would like the Minister to indicate in some way that he appreciates the position as seriously as some of us do who are close up to it. I cannot indicate to him any more than that it may be possible to ensure a greater flow of supplies of materials, say between now and the end of the year, to ensure that not alone would the lack which has entered into our building programme be checked but the building programme as a whole would be stepped up.

Deputy Cosgrave referred to a matter in which I was particularly interested. The Minister will recall that during the debate on the fuel crisis a few months ago, I ventured to say that a good deal of the trouble which arose out of that particular crisis was due to the rather loose form in which registration had taken place in connection with the rationing of turf. The Minister was prepared on that occasion to examine the position and he has indicated, in his opening speech here in presenting his Vote, that as from next autumn there will be a tightening up. Evidently he is not going to allow a repetition of what happened in January and February. May I point out to him just one aspect of the position that may not have been brought to his notice, that is, that the very announcement he has made that there is to be a tightening up in the autumn has given rise to certain kinds of misunderstanding? I advocated, during that particular debate, that the fairest and most equitable way would be to ensure a basic ration for each individual. I am sure he will regard it almost as a duty to ensure that there will be such a basic ration for each individual, but I wonder how he proposes to relate that to the individuals who are procuring turf or fuel on their own. That is a matter which some people have spoken to me about. There are people cutting turf for themselves and for their friends. Are those efforts to be limited in any form because of any relation that supply may have eventually to the basic ration to which he has referred? I would particularly ask the Minister to have a look at that point before he replies, so that any misunderstanding may be removed.

Any suggestions will be very welcome.

There is just one other question. In regard to the cost-of-living index, I have a recollection of a question being asked recently by some member, drawing attention to the alteration in the basis of the British cost-of-living system. As far as I can recall, this question was under review as far back as 1922. There is a feeling that the basis on which the present cost-of-living index figure has been drawn does not truly reflect the actual cost of living and I would be rather interested to know whether the Minister, in view of the changes which have taken place, proposes to have any review of the position here.

Everybody agrees that the Minister has undoubted ability and brings to certain of his projects magnificent enthusiasm. He has shown that in his enterprise regarding air services and, in that connection, members on this side of the House would like to join in the congratulations which were extended to him to-day on the event in which he was the central figure yesterday. Having said that, I must indicate to the House, on the question of unemployment—having regard to the power which the Minister for Industry and Commerce has had for a number of years, being a member of a Government with a strength which it would be very difficult for any Government to have for a long number of years again—it is very difficult to understand how it is that the Minister has allowed the unemployment position to become constant to the extent of some 70,000 people, condemned to that category, year in and year out. To that figure you have added roughly 20,000 people, as disclosed in the intercensal reports recently, who are forced to emigrate and in addition you have staggering figures like 77,000 in receipt of home assistance and 20,000 maintained in institutions which belong to public assistance authorities, together with the heavy list of people in receipt of unemployment insurance and a large section of our people coming within that miscellaneous category known as road workers, farm workers, forestry workers and so on, who are on very low incomes, almost below the subsistence line.

Knowing the Minister as we do—and he has been described in this House as a realist—I cannot understand how he reconciles that position with his own undoubted ability and with his desire to see these things put right. I put to him now the question I put to the Taoiseach on a former occasion. We are a nation of relatively a very small population, about 3,000,000. Is this country, with its known resources, in a position to give a decent standard of life to all its citizens? The answer given by people who profess to be competent has always been that it is so competent and that it is in a position to give a better standard of life to a higher population than we have. If that be so, how do we reconcile it with the position I have indicated, a condition which is not transient but almost permanent in character, as shown by the constant figures of our unemployed? I suggest to the Minister that the success or otherwise of his own administration and that of his Cabinet will be measured by the yard-stick of the figures I have given. Until that position is put right, we cannot stand up in this House or anywhere else and say that we are a progressive nation.

It is true that progress can be pointed to here and there but, in the last analysis, our economic position and our course will be determined by the figures which I have indicated. I suggest to the Minister that there are a large number of works still to be undertaken in the country and that they ought to be approached in a manner different from that in which they were approached down the years. I put the number of years at 25, which is longer than the term of office of the Minister's administration. I should like to feel that we had reached the stage where we could safely say that we were tackling this terrible cancer of unemployment. It has been cutting across our whole social life here for very many years. We should, at least, show that we are determined to check it and that we are taking active steps to do so. I hope this debate will prompt the Minister to indicate the lines that appeal to him by which that can be done. I, as one member of the House, want to express my disappointment that such a position should be continuing in an aggravated form, and that it should have continued for so many years.

Like many other Deputies, I want to protest against the closing of the railway branch lines. I want to protest in particular against the closing of the branch line from Trim to Athboy. That is a very serious step for the agricultural community. It has been said that this is only a temporary measure, but the fear is that it is going to be permanent. One of the employees at Trim told me that one of the officials said to him that he need not worry—that the line would never be opened again. If that is so, it is a deplorable position—that any monopoly should have the power to close a branch railway line like that without consulting the agricultural community. So far as the production of live stock and grain is concerned, Trim is a pivotal point. This is one of the most important branch lines in the country, and the people of my county will not stand for the closing of it. I agree that it may not be a paying concern, but surely there are other branches of the national railway service which are paying and which should be well able to carry a branch line like this. As a result of the closing of it, 20 employees in the town of Trim have lost their employment. It was closed by a stroke of the pen by an officer in charge of this monopoly.

The speech the Minister made was one of the greatest upper-cuts that the Fianna Fáil Party and the policy of the Government have received during the last ten or 15 years. I do not believe they will be able to recover from it. What it means is that they are now making a vigorous clamour to get up completely on the platform of the Fine Gael Party. During the last few years they have scrambled up to the extent of 80 per cent., but now they want to shove us off and take our position. Well, I say more luck to them. We have shown them that we have a national policy, one that we can be proud of. The Minister was not proud of it 15 years ago, but he seems to be proud of it to-day and I say more power to him.

The sins of the past are now throwing their shadows in front of him and throwing some bricks as well. His position is a very unenviable one. What I did not like about the Minister for a good many years was that he was a huge optimist. He hardly ever made a speech in public or over the radio in which he did not show that he was a complete optimist. Of course, it was grand to listen to him. You could see the roses almost budding out the next day with everything going fine. In the last few months the Minister has proved to be a complete false prophet. The things that he contemplated did not take place. That is why we had so little reliance on the broadcasting statements he made during the last few years. I hope that when he broadcasts in future a speech such as he made the other day that he will come down to ground level and tell the truth. I think he now realises that you cannot muddle with the natural economy of a people and escape dire results. During the last 15 years he muddled against the natural economy of the country, with the result that to-day we have almost no bread, butter or margarine —practically nothing. That is the position in a country that should be flowing with milk and honey. It is a deplorable position. It all proves that the policy of self-sufficiency is only a myth. The Lord made no country such that it could depend on itself. He made the world one, each country depending on the other. We did not think so 15 years ago and now we have to pay for all this nonsense.

What is the position with regard to agriculture? Its present position is due to the bad industrial start that we made. Industry was put in the position of being able to pay higher wages than agriculture, with the result that the people flocked from the land to the towns and across the water. As long as that is the position, we are going to have national decay here. The remedy is to put agriculture in the predominant position. That will not be done until we have good planning, cool thinking and perseverance. In the industrial sphere in Dublin, we now have a number of wealthy magnates who are able to go bombasting around the country. When they started 15 years ago we know that they had not a penny in their pockets.

They were ordinary poor individuals, but now they are big monopolists. That is the sort of thing that brought decay on the country. These people will have to be put in their proper place. I would not mind if those who started our industries were of a 100 per cent. Irish extraction. Instead, they were yellow and red who came here from all over the world and took over key positions in our industrial development. They have got a grip on our industries, and I am satisfied that we did not need their aid. In industry we do need a few technicians. We could have taken them from any country, and I would say chiefly from Britain. They could have given us whatever advice we needed and have trained our men. We certainly did not need any type of foreigner to come in here and make money and get control of industry. I am satisfied that some hidden hand is throttling this nation, and that it is in subjection to the financial ring that is operating in the country at the present moment. They are fattening and battening themselves and are dragging down the nation. The Minister must wake up and realise that the ring of foreigners in Dublin will not be allowed to control this little nation. They are getting too much out of it. They should be made take off their coats, but instead they are able to get wealthy overnight. It is the people of the country who have to take off their coats. That position will have to be reversed. We must get back to the old genuine policy that was preached by Arthur Griffith, the policy which thought of the Irish people first.

The Minister cannot feel very happy about the present position when we find ourselves short in supplies of bread, butter and milk. If the Minister for Agriculture was half as good as the Minister for Industry and Commerce in putting his policy across during the last 15 years, we would be in a better position to-day than we are.

The Minister for Agriculture has nothing to do with this Estimate.

If he was a live wire, things would be better. The former Minister for Agriculture was a decent man and I am glad that he is out of that position. If things are to improve there will have to be more genuine planning in the future. At present the country is being carried along on wheat growing, turf production and timber felling. These are the main industries at the moment, and they are definitely white elephants. They are being carried on at a gigantic loss. As far as turf production is concerned, the present method is a gigantic failure. We cannot go back on that now because we are in the middle of an emergency and we must produce some class of fuel, but, as soon as we are in a position to do so, we should go back to the private production of turf. Let us have production by the bog owners and by those who did it in the past— production by hand-cutting. I agree, as far as machine-won turf is concerned, that that method has been a success in Russia and in other countries. By the employment of proper technicians I do not see why it should not be a success here. We should switch over as soon as possible to machine-won turf. In that way the millions that are being lost at present could be saved. I do not say that that loss can be avoided at present, but it should be brought to an end as soon as possible.

The same applies to wheat growing. According to the Minister wheat growing is finished, and it is not much loss. We have had to grow wheat or die. During the last ten or 15 years there was far too much boosting of this crop. Farmers produced wheat at a loss and they hated growing it. It had to be grown in the national interest. As a wheat-grower, I am satisfied that it is a loss on any farm.

Which Minister is responsible for that?

I think it is partly the responsibility of the Minister for Industry and Commerce. He is more or less responsible for subsidising it. It must be realised that this country must be carried on on a business basis. If agriculture were on its feet it would carry many of the burdens for this nation. During the period of the first Great War the farmers of this country produced an unlimited amount and made money. There was not half the regimentation that there is to-day. At the present moment the farmer is not boss in his own home. There is all this red tape. There is this inspector and that inspector coming in at the back door and going out at the front door. A farmer will produce because it is natural for him to produce. He will be a real economist if he is let alone but there are tens of thousands of inspectors telling the farmers this, that and the other. I am glad the warble fly inspector has not yet reappeared.

Does that come under Industry and Commerce?

I do not think so.

We want a planned economy based on our natural resources before we can start an industrial drive. We have only scratched the surface as far as industry is concerned. We should have a survey of the nation's mineral resources. We talk about the industries that have been started in Dublin in the last ten to 15 years. Half of them cannot be called industries. They are merely assembly stations where a few nuts are screwed together. Eighty per cent. of the articles are imported and they are assembled here and yet we boast to the world of our new industries. That is all rot.

We should have industries springing up throughout the country coincident with the development of our mineral resources. The decentralisation of industry is of paramount importance. The big towns and the medium-sized towns throughout the country are decaying. When the Minister is pressed to establish an industry in some country town he establishes some small industry employing five to 12 girls. The big monopolies and the gigantic industries remain in Dublin. I quite understand that any industrialist will always try to get near a port or a big centre, but there should be a national plan to force industrialists, even at a loss to themselves, to establish industries down the country. The country has the appearance of a dwarf. There is a great big head represented by Dublin, and a little shrivelled body, represented by the rest of the country, that is hardly able to carry the big head. We should try to reduce the head and develop the body by a planned economy. Decentralisation is absolutely necessary. I know it is a gigantic and ungrateful task but some man with vision will have to be found to put it into effect. I am satisfied that the present Minister, if he could get away from political play-acting, is the right man in the right place to do it. If he carried that policy into effect for five years and then went out of public life the nation would thank him and he would have done a great work. I ask him to start out on that programme. There have been six years' inactivity as far as industry is concerned and the Minister has had plenty of time to think out a plan for the future. I am satisfied that he is unhappy about the present position. In the next five years he should intensify his efforts to decentralise industry.

There should be a national survey of industrial development. The first thing that the Fianna Fáil Government should have done was to extend electrical development to the utmost. They should then have carried out a survey of the mineral resources. Then they could have started industrial development in any part of the country. The electricity supply would have been available everywhere for that purpose. That was not done.

When the Cosgrave Government in its early life brought in a scheme for one of the most wonderful things any Government could do, that is, the harnessing of the Shannon, they were laughed at and sneered at and all the sabotage that could be used was used against them. They carried out that scheme. They started the Carlow beet factory, something of which we should be proud. It was called a white elephant. Why do not the Minister and the Government plan as the Cosgrave Government planned? Why do they not take their time and plan in such a way that their schemes will be of lasting benefit to the people, not tin-pot factories started by a few Jews? Thousands of little factories have been set up, and some of them have been burned in a few months and the "buckos" got away with the swag. There was no need for that in this country, and a great deal of it could have been avoided if there had been a proper plan.

I believe there is something wrong in the matter of the development of coal mines in this country. I do not suggest that there is a vast amount of coal in this country, but I should like to know what is wrong that no effort is being made to get coal for the Irish people. There are old people near where I live who know from their fathers and grandfathers that there was a large vein of coal not four miles from where I live, and about 80 or 90 years ago the British Government closed it by compulsion. They have shown me the pit-head and the coal-yard and they are satisfied that there was a seven-foot vein of coal there. One of the finest coal veins in Europe was situated between Meath and Kildare, and during the survey carried out by the British Government at that time one of the richest mineral veins in either Britain or Ireland was discovered to exist across the Midlands of Ireland. There has not been the slightest effort made to see if that is true or to develop it.

I am satisfied that plenty of coal could be got in this country without great expense. I realise that extensive development of coal may be a big problem. But we are told that in the Arigna Mountains, in Kilkenny and in Meath, coal can be got by digging it up. Why do not we dig it up? We are told it is a private affair and that the Government cannot interfere. They have interfered in many things and in a national emergency, when it is a case of getting coal for our people, they could easily interfere.

At present the picture for us is black and gloomy. From a national point of view, things could not be worse. We have absolutely nothing. Industrial development is stagnating. It is held at the throttle by foreign monopolists across the water. Finance has the dominating effect on our position. I thought that we could stand on our own feet at least to the extent of 75 or 80 per cent. when we got self-government. Where are we to-day? We are absolutely depending for our very existence on what we can get by begging and scraping for commodities any-where we can get them. We could have plenty of butter, bread and fuel if we had had proper long-term con-tracts made before the war. Agriculture could have had a ten or 15 years' contract with other powers. I am satisfied that, but for all the tomfoolery that was carried on, this country and Britain could have had a definite contract for the production of cattle, sheep, pigs, poultry and eggs here for export to Britain by the million in ex-change for tens of thousands of tons of good coal.

We do not make them because we are too big in ourselves. We are national self-sufficiency gone mad. Our people are starving, our people are vanishing and the land of our agricultural community has gone into unproductivity. What is going to be the future of this country unless some man is bold enough and big enough to make this country worth living in? That Minister there can do it but he cannot do it with the people he has behind him. I am satisfied that the fewer big dinners he attends the better. These people are big men to-day but they were beggars ten years ago. I would ask him instead to come down to the country, to come down to the men who sheltered us when we needed shelter, to see their position and to listen to them.

It is a good sign to have an optimistic note struck as regards the possibility of our exports in the future. I think, however, that the immediate problems which concern our own people are the ones which require the most attention at present. I think, therefore, that food, although it is largely the responsibility of the Minister for Agriculture, is the responsibility of the Minister for Industry and Commerce so far as its distribution is concerned. Food, fuel and transport are the three things which concern the country at the present time.

I would like to bring to the Minister's attention a few matters as regards fuel. At the moment there is an all-out drive required to provide fuel for domestic as well as for industrial purposes. I am sure that no effort is being spared by the Minister and his Department to get imports of coal for our railways and for our industries, but as far as the people are concerned a very big effort has got to be made this year and I am afraid that too much attention has been paid in the past to a criticism of the type we have just listened to from the opposite bench. I think that too much attention has also been paid to statements about rapid post-war recovery in other countries with the result that undoubtedly and unquestionably there was an easing off in the production of turf in March, April and May of last year—the three months in which turf could be produced and saved quite easily. That being so we are confronted with the very serious situation which has confronted us for some time past. In this respect I should like to draw the Minister's attention to a few points. Bord na Móna produces turf, both machine-won and hand-won. So also do the county councils. Galway is one of the largest turf-producing counties in the State and it has been called upon to produce, I think, 113,000 tons of turf this year. I fear that it will not reach that target if something is not done to remove an anomaly which exists in regard to wages. There is a difference about wages. Bord na Móna has taken over some bogs in Galway and it is paying 56/- a week to its workers. In the same county the local authority in general is paying 45/-. Of course, the wages paid to skilled sleansmen are somewhat higher, but still there is a big difference, and in my opinion that difference is going to prove a great obstacle. Perhaps the Department of Local Government may be the more appropriate Department to approach on the subject but nevertheless as the Minister is responsible for the fuel situation I think that he should have something done to remove that impediment.

There is another thing that we are up against in County Galway and I presume the same is true in every other county. It applies in particular to labourers from town areas who are in bog districts. They are very reluctant to go on seasonal employment in bogs because of the fact that they will not get their first payment of wages for five weeks after they start work. Some people would say that they would rather be drawing the dole. That is not so, if they were given a fair chance. I am sure that if I were on the dole and getting a weekly income of, say, £1 a week I would prefer that to the £3 a week that I would have to wait for in the first instance for five weeks. I think that that obstacle should also be removed. We have taken it up time and again with our county manager and our county surveyor and their excuse is that if they were to pay weekly it would inflict too great a burden on the clerical staff. They say that if they were to adopt our suggestion of having weekly payments they would, after the first fortnight at least, have to increase the clerical staff. In my opinion these are two matters which should be remedied if we are going to have an all-out drive in turf production this year.

With reference to the question of bog development, the Board of Works did excellent work in making available grants for the drainage and making of roads into bogs. However, applications which have been made over the past 12 to 18 months have been refused in many instances and a form of application under the rural improvements scheme is the reply that is given. I think that that is not good policy particularly in a situation such as we are facing. I think that where there is evidence that a considerable amount of turf is being produced both for local domestic use and for the national pool a full grant should be given provided, of course, that the amount of turf which is being produced in the bog bears a fair relation to the amount of money that it is proposed to expend. As I have said, the Board of Works has done fairly good work in regard to bog improvement as also have the county councils.

There is another Department of State, the Land Commission, and I am sorry that I cannot pay them that tribute or compliment because they have done absolutely nothing for the past eight or nine years. It is a well-known fact that their activities as regards land division are almost negligible. At the same time they have huge tracts of bogs on hand and actually they have bogs on hand which were vested in the tenants by their predecessors, the Congested Districts Board and the Estates Commission, 25 to 30 years ago, but nothing has ever been done. The road that was lock-spitted and the drains that were lock-spitted at that particular time have never been developed; nothing has ever been done either by way of making the road or the drains. I believe that if they were alive to their responsibility in that respect—and I thought that they should be, because I was given to understand that there was an inter-departmental committee dealing with the matter, on which the Land Commission was represented—very much more could have been done and that very large tracts of bog could have been made available, not merely to the county council but to individuals and even to business people and industrialists, if they were prepared to go into turf production.

I hold it is good policy and a wise investment to continue bog development because, even though Bord na Móna may be able to supply a considerable amount of the public needs, I believe they will never be able to supply the full requirements of the country—I mean the small towns—and that the small towns will have to rely on hand-won turf all the time—that is, turf produced by the turf societies and the individuals who go in for turf production.

A good deal more money should be made available this year for the improvement and development of bogs by way of roads and drainage. I am very glad to learn that it is proposed to transfer the responsibility for turf production from the county councils to Bord na Móna next year. But that is for one reason only. The county councils have done very good work in the production of hand-won turf, but where you have a large amount of bog and there is a large amount of work being carried out in the way of producing turf, the roads are very badly neglected and, if they are neglected much further, it will take a huge amount of money to bring them to a state that will be sufficient for the carrying of the large amount of traffic for which they will have to cater.

In the transfer to Bord na Móna, I should like them to take over a number of supervisor gangers and gangers who have experience of turf production While you may compliment the engineering staffs in the various counties for what they have done—and there was a great burden thrown on them— at the same time it was the supervisor gangers and the gangers experienced in turf production who were responsible for giving to this country the large amount of turf it received under very difficult and trying circumstances.

As regards the transport problem, a good deal of adverse comment has been passed on Córas Iompair Eireann. It is all right to criticise where criticism is due, but I must say from my experience that in many respects Córas Iompair Eireann, under very great difficulties since we had a shortage of coal, have rendered a very great service to the country. Seeds and fertilisers have been distributed, and I do not think there has been any cause for complaint, and the people in charge of the various railway centres throughout the country have been most courteous and obliging in every way.

The one instance where the company has failed to provide an adequate service, anything up to the standard expected of a railway, is in the carriage of live stock from fairs. We have had fairs in County Galway, notably in Ballinasloe and Loughrea, since the acute fuel shortage, and in both places it would be very difficult to describe the bad conditions there as regards the loading of live stock on lorries, particularly in Loughrea. It is a very large fair, and the town is in the centre of a big live-stock population. On many occasions in previous years from seven to 15 specials, with about 30 wagons to each special, were taken away. Of course, the lorries are not able to cope with the traffic. It did not matter how many of them were there, they would not be able to cope with the traffic, largely because of the lack of loading bank accommodation. There is a short bank on the fair green capable of permitting one lorry to be loaded. Then they availed of a natural clay bank at the other end of the town, but after half an hour it was little better than a mud bank. It was appalling to see the conditions there. Sellers and buyers had to load their stock knee-deep in slush and mud.

Reference was made to the closing of branch lines and, when so many have spoken on that matter, I feel somewhat reluctant to carry it on, because I feel it has been brought almost sufficiently to the notice of the Minister. There is a branch line in Loughrea from Attymon, off the main line, and if it was contemplated to close it, it would be a very great mistake, even from the point of view of live stock alone. If ever anyone got such a senseless idea into his head as to close that station and line, it would mean new accommodation would have to be provided. New loading-bank accommodation and new pens would have to be established. At Loughrea railway station there is fine loading and storing accommodation, and I hope that any proposal that may be made for its abolition will not be entertained. It would be disastrous for the people there.

At the moment the farmers in the area, as well as the business people generally, are very anxious about it. Not merely are they concerned about the difficulty of getting their stock taken away by lorries, after their experience of recent fairs, but there is then the question of the added cost. Formerly, cattle were taken away for £5 17s. 0d., but recently the amount by lorry was well over £12, and that, undoubtedly, will be passed on.

So far as that town is concerned, they are anxious to have an industry established there, and I am informed by the local industrial development association that there is a sum of £20,000 available in the town and district on short call for any worth-while industry. The closing of the terminus there would end for all time any hope of establishing an industry.

Deputy Corry mentioned the proposal to increase freight on agricultural produce. There should be no impediment placed on the production of fuel or agricultural produce at the moment or for a long time to come by way of excess charges or anything of that kind. If anybody should bear the burden it should be the people who are utilising the passenger services. I know that the services that are given are not able to cope with the number of people who are anxious to travel. It is very questionable if they are all on business. I imagine a goodly proportion of them are travelling for pleasure. It has not a very good effect at a time like this when farmers and farm labourers are working very hard in the fields to see four, five or six bus loads travelling the roads. The workers get the idea that all these people are not engaged on business. I think if there is any increase in charges, it is passengers rather than food or fuel that should be called upon to bear those increases.

I have heard suggestions that better facilities should be provided in places like Dublin and at many stations along the road for passengers availing of bus services. At present passengers have to stand in Dublin in queues for about two hours or, perhaps, longer. I understand that very often long-distance passengers are left behind while passengers living much nearer Dublin are taken on first. People travelling long distances, to Galway, Ballina, Limerick or other places, have to wait until an auxiliary bus is provided. I think it would be quite possible to remedy that state of affairs. I think also that something should be done to provide accommodation for these people so that they could stand in out of heavy rain. It is very uncomfortable for people to travel long distances after having received a heavy wetting while waiting in queues, and it is not for the benefit of their health.

I desire to draw the attention of the Minister to the fuel position in County Wicklow, which is the largest timber-producing county in Ireland. Since timber was again brought under control, the timber in Wicklow is being brought up to Dublin. Formerly poor men in local centres with horses and carts were able to purchase boughs which they cut up and sold in small quantities to poor people. Under the Minister's new policy, these people have been refused licences to sell timber to the poorer sections of the community whom they supplied in quantities of stones, half-stones or cwts. in towns and villages. The Minister has laid it down that they must purchase their requirements through a licensed dealer but the licensed merchants have refused to have anything to do with such timber. For the last fortnight or three weeks, poor people have been deprived of these sources of supply from which they could formerly get a stone or a half-stone of nine-inch blocks, whereas the people who formerly supplied them are themselves unemployed and the licensed merchants will not avail of the facilities offered them to cut up wood for such a trade. I should like to point out to the Minister that if he could give these small traders a licence to cut up the boughs and trimmings of trees, they would be able to make a living for themselves and to supply poor people around the country with a cwt., a half-cwt. or a stone as they needed it.

There is another anomaly to which I wish to direct the attention of the Minister. Wicklow is a tourist county and there is a large number of private hotels in the area which are licensed to obtain tea, sugar and butter to enable them to supply meals to tourists. In one case, which has been brought to my notice, the brother of the proprietress of a private hotel had a large farm and was ably to supply her with butter during the emergency. She did not take advantage of the regulations under which she could have received a permit to enable her to receive a certain quantity of butter for her business because she was able to get quite sufficient from her brother's farm. Her brother sold the farm quite recently, thus depriving the lady of her supplies, but the Department refused to grant her a licence to obtain these supplies from another source because she had not been obtaining butter from an outside source in 1939. Quite convenient, in the next seaport town, there is a tourist hotel in which there is no shortage of either food, liquor or even cigarettes. You are asked in that hotel what brand you like. Naturally there is a good deal of discontent in the area because of what seems unfair discrimination. This lady did not like to take advantage of the emergency, when she received sufficient butter from, her brother, to get it from other people, I think that the Minister should reconsider his decision and grant some concession to people placed in that position.

I attended a meeting quite recently where I met a number of farm workers who were bachelors and they pointed out to me that they were unable to work a full week because of the fact that they were not allowed the extra bread ration on the grounds that they did not live two miles away from the place where they worked. The small quantity of bread which they brought with them in the morning was soon used up and when they got home at night they had to try to cook potatoes for themselves. Their bread ration was consumed before the week was out with the result that they were unable to give full time to agricultural work. They pointed out to me that while the Government were asking them to produce food, at the same time the Government refused to grant them a sufficient bread ration to enable them to work a full week.

I can appreciate the difficulties of the Minister in arriving at decisions on the various applications of this character placed before him, but where men are engaged on the important work of the production of food and where they live a small distance short of the necessary two miles from their work, I think they should be given the extra ration. These men were able to work only three or four days a week and they had to pretend that they were ill for the rest of the week owing to the fact that they had not sufficient bread. There is a great deal of discontent among the workers generally because of such discrimination. In the same way, one set of road workers receive the same ration, while a carter who has to travel perhaps six or eight miles from his home to his work is refused the extra ration. I would ask the Minister, if it is at all possible, to grant some concession especially to farm labourers who are single men but who may not live two miles away from their work.

I am glad that the Minister has taken up the question of improving the condition of various harbours throughout the country and that a survey of the smaller harbours is being made. We know the difficulties which the harbour authorities of these small ports have had to contend with. Such ports have been a great asset to the country in the past and I hope that, when the survey is complete, repairs can be carried out so that when extra shipping space is available these ports can be utilised to relieve the congestion at present existing in our larger ports.

In connection with gas supplies, I have heard complaints to the effect that while sufficient coal is being provided in Dublin to provide a five hours' supply daily, in some provincial centres sufficient coal is being allocated at present to provide only a three hours' supply daily. The people in the country ask why all the concessions come to Dublin while no consideration is given to the people in the rural areas. I know the difficulties, and we must all appreciate that these difficulties exist, but it is very hard when people who are without turf or firewood and who have to depend on gas, find that their gas supply is reduced to three hours per day while Dublin gets the benefit of a longer period of supply.

I bring these matters to the Minister's attention as matters affecting my constituency, with a view to getting the Minister to remedy them. I hope he will do so immediately and remove the causes of the discontent which exist among the men I mention. I especially ask him to give favourable consideration to the case of the owner of this hotel who has been refused a licence for butter. It is most unfair that the owner, who tried to help the State by not looking for butter during the emergency, should now be deprived of a supply and the least we can do is to give some consideration for that help given during the emergency, in the shape of an allowance of butter, so that her visitors will not have to go to the tourist hotels in the area, the hotels where the luxuries and the various brands of articles are available for the asking.

The most disturbing feature of the Minister's introductory remarks was his reference to the adverse trade balance amounting to £33,000,000. That is a very serious position because it indicates that we are buying more than we are selling and possibly living beyond our means. That was not the case up to very recently. We were always proud to say that at least we balanced our export and import trade, but now we have the regrettable fact that we are either living on our bank balance, so to speak, or running into debt to the tune of £33,000,000 this year, and no explanation is forthcoming. Something must be done, because, if we are to continue on those lines, we will find ourselves in a very unenviable position in the course of a few years. Agricultural produce was our principal export. It was the one thing we always balanced our imports with in past years, and, for many years to come, agricultural produce will have to keep our balance right, so far as imports are concerned.

I have not the slightest intention of blaming the Minister for the catastro-phic fall in agricultural produce, because nearly all the blame attaches to his colleague, now the Minister for Social Welfare, who was Minister for Agriculture in the past, but as Minister for Industry and Commerce in charge of statistics and responsible for effecting a proper trade balance inwards and outwards, it was definitely his duty to draw the attention not alone of the Minister for Agriculture but of the Government to the fact that our principal industry was languishing and in danger of slipping out of our grasp altogether. Yet, apparently, he did not do so, because, if he did, things would not be in the mess they are in to-day.

We have reached the very unhappy position that in a country which exported a vast amount of agricultural produce, after supplying our own needs, we are short of flour, sugar, bacon, butter—to be raised to four ounces—and several other commodities. There must be something radically wrong with Government agricultural policy when this country which was in a position to export £4,000,000 worth of produce, when prices were much lower than they are to-day, is now short of these commodities, and, even at this late hour, it is the Minister's duty to take the position up with the Government and with the Ministers concerned with a view to seeing that this work comes to a halt. Government policy in this direction is wrong and it is his duty to take it up with the Government now. It will take many years to set right the blunders which have been made in the past 15 years, and the Minister is not altogether free from blame in not bringing it to the notice of the Government and in not bringing pressure to bear on the Government to get the position righted.

The Minister acquired the reputation of being a very competent Minister for Supplies during the emergency. Matters went very nicely during the actual war years, for the simple reason that very few things were rationed, but I am afraid his reputation as a competent Minister in the matter of equal distribution of supplies is falling to pieces in face of the real crisis we are up against now. We are short of five or six absolutely essential commodities, and, in the Minister's introductory speech, there was no glimmer of information as to what he intends to do to meet that situation. Apparently, we are to continue with four lbs. of flour until the next harvest comes in, and with four ozs. of butter until the cows take it into their heads to produce more milk. Dublin will probably be short of turf again next winter and there is no indication of any steps being taken, except a call to the country to do this and that, without any apparent attempt at planning or any attempt to take proper steps to put things in order and to ensure that one difficulty after another will at least be eased, if not wiped out.

A good deal has been said by many Deputies about the closing of branch lines and I should like to know if it is a fact that the closing of the line from Athlone to County Mayo, together with the attendant branch lines, is contemplated. That is the rumour, but I hope it is not true.

Rumour always speaks with a lying tongue.

Not always.

The rumour the Deputy hears does.

I have heard rumours and unfortunately they did not speak with a lying tongue. However, that is the rumour—that the main line from Athlone to Westport is to be closed. I hope that rumour has a lying tongue in this case, but many other branch lines have been closed down. I want to tell the Minister straight that we want a rail service and an efficient rail service in this country. We are quite prepared to overlook the shortcomings during the coal shortage, but if it is the policy of the Department and of Córas Iompair Éireann gradually to close down lines and to divert all the heavy traffic on to the roads, I can assure the Minister that it will not be tolerated in the country, unless there is a drastic revision of local government, or in the present method of rating at least, because the ordinary ratepayer regards the roads as his property, as the property of his father and forefathers and he will not tolerate a system whereby Córas Iompair Éireann, which has already been very handsomely dealt with by the House, will divert all the heavy traffic on to the roads.

Apart from the economy of the thing, it must be quite obvious to anybody that a rail service will be the cheaper form of transport in the long run. A certain amount of heavy traffic may have to be diverted to the roads for transport by lorry and bus, due to the coal shortage. If England has not the coal to send here and if we have not coal of our own to provide, we are quite prepared to put up with anything during this particular emergency period. But if it is to be the permanent policy of Córas Iompair Éireann to close down a number of lines and divert a lot of heavy traffic from the railways to the roads, it will not be tolerated. I claim to have as good knowledge of the ordinary man's mind, in the west of Ireland, at all events, as anybody, and there the people are taking definite umbrage at what they call this new departure. It was amusing to hear some of the Fianna Fáil Deputies upbraiding the Minister about the closing of branch lines and the general shortening of rail services. They did not realise that they were cutting across the famous Transport Bill which precipitated a general election a few years ago.

I did not precipitate the election.

The attitude of Fianna Fáil Deputies now reminds me of a certain night in 1944 when they all tripped manfully into the Lobby to vote for the Transport Bill. Clann na Talmhan, Fine Gael and the Labour Party were a desperate pack of scoundrels at that time to oppose such a fine Bill, such a noble measure. Time brings changes.

The only difference was that the Fianna Fáil Deputies did not know anything about the Bill.

The public did, as they showed at the election.

Deputies got their answer then.

Fianna Fáil Deputies are finding out what was in the Bill now.

The less said about that election and what it was fought about, the better for Fianna Fáil.

Like Fianna Fáil Deputies, the public are now finding out about the Transport Bill.

I wonder if they are. Deputies made a bad tactical blunder at that time and they have never got over it.

They will never forget it.

The public are going to be made pay for the Bill now. The Minister got away with it for a long time.

The Minister is calling for 600,000 tons of turf from the county councils. I think that the wages of turf workers will have to be increased if the Minister's request is to be met. We have to consider the magnet of higher wages across the water and in the towns and cities here. In my opinion, the wages of turf workers will have to be raised. One thing I cannot understand is the enormous subsidy that is paid for turf. We have never had figures from the Minister as to the cost from the moment it leaves the clamp in the bog to the moment it is distributed in the city.

Is the Deputy referring to the cost of the subsidy?

I am referring to the £1,500,000 subsidy for turf in the Estimates for this year.

It costs about £5 5s. 0d. a ton.

The Minister quoted the total cost at 73/9. That was last year's figure.

It was not right, even for last year. The Minister did not quote that as a correct figure.

Take 73/9, which was the Minister's figure for last year. County Mayo produces about 90,000 tons of turf. Deputy Beegan said that Galway produced 130,000 tons last year. That represents about 200,000 tons between those two counties. What I want to know is where the difference in price comes in because, in the early years, when turf was 64/- —I do not know whether it was subsidised then or not——

The best of turf left the bogs of Mayo at 18/-, £1 and £1 2s. per ton. I want to say that our county engineer takes great pains to ensure that only the best quality of turf reaches the stations. People in the city paid 64/- a ton and, I suppose, the subsidy was 10/- a ton. They are giving 54/- a ton now and I presume the subsidy is about £1 a ton.

I wish you were right.

I do not know where the difference goes but there is something radically wrong. The Minister never revealed the information to which I refer. Perhaps, he was never asked the question. I ask him to give us the full figures and state where all this money goes. As one who has watched turf development fairly closely and knows a good deal about the subject, it is not clear to me how a ton of turf which is cut and spread, the bog paid for, the turf saved and clamped—which entails a terrific amount of labour—at a cost of 18/- or £1 in Mayo, costs people of the country well over 73/-. Deputy Morrissey says the figure is about £5. Is it that the railway company have an excessive profit on the lorrying of the turf from the bogs to the railhead and the transport of the turf by rail here? Since the dropping of passenger traffic and since the turf business came into full swing during the emergency, Córas Iompair Éireann has been able to pay dividends for the first time.

Córas Iompair Eireann came into existence only last year.

They were always running on flat wheels until last year. A motion on fuel by the Labour Party was before the House some time ago and I asked the Minister to suggest to Córas Iompair Eireann that they should contribute their own share towards this emergency. The bog owners were asked to give bog. It was taken from them at little or no price. In addition, they were victimised by the commissioners of valuation. The only people who seem to be making a profit out of the turf business are Córas Iompair Eireann, and I think it would not be unfair to ask them to make a little bit of a sacrifice and carry the turf at cost, so that the people of the towns and cities would get it at a fairly reasonable price. It would not hamper them to do that. They were backed to the extent of £20,000,000 by this House and they were guaranteed against working loss and they should contribute their own little bit towards the emergency. It is not fair to be asking the people at a lower level to shoulder the burden all the time. Everybody should be asked to do his bit.

There has been a shortage of domestic paraffin. Some Deputies spoke about a shortage of paraffin for tractors. I did not hear any complaints about that in my county, but I heard numerous complaints about the domestic ration. Córas Iompair Eireann is at fault to a certain extent. I mentioned that before, but the Minister emphatically denied it. They are leaving the tank cars at the stations, after being emptied by the oil distributing companies, for a week, instead of returning them to the depôt for refilling and for sending elsewhere. I am not putting all the blame on Córas Iompair Eireann. The oil distributing companies have not dealt with the situation as they should. There is something wrong with those as well.

Whether it is shortage of accommodation as the oil comes straight from the tanker or whether it is that they have not sufficient lorries to distribute it, between Córas Iompair Éireann and the oil distributing companies the position is nothing short of a scandal. During the winter, very many people were without their ration of paraffin. In many houses all over my county, the people were depending on little lamps giving about a quarter of the light which a penny candle would give. The Minister should have seen to that. If it was an oil distributing case and they were short of lorries, it would not have been hard to find lorries from another source and set the trouble right. I think it was a Deputy from Kilkenny who said that whole hatches of chickens were destroyed in incubators owing to the paraffin shortage. They started off thinking they would have enough and in the middle of the hatch they found they were without paraffin, with the result that tens of thousands of eggs were useless and the birds died in the eggs.

A good deal has been said about developing our coal resources. I said not so long ago that I believed there was ample coal here. No survey has been made—the Minister need not shake his head—and no prospecting has been done during our 25 years of self-government. I hold that any survey which was made was done during the British time, when it was only quite natural to expect they would not reveal any such information if there were coal deposits here. I cannot understand why some attempt was not made during the emergency. The Minister may say he could not get mining or prospecting experts, but surely in Wicklow and, as Deputy Giles says, in Kildare and Meath—and I hold in the west—there is coal to be found.

I know one mountain in the west where, in the British times when I was a young lad, the local farmers quarried the coal out of the mountain, and it was of good quality. There must be coal. We are not so far removed from England, one of the best coal-producing countries in the world, and the same conditions must have existed here as existed in bygone times in Britain. Deputy Norton described this as a hare. It may be a hare, but at the very least let us chase it and find out if it is a hare and, if it is, let us catch him. What did we get our freedom for, if not to have a Parliament sitting in Dublin legislating even for Twenty-Six Counties, to develop every mineral and every possibility within the country?

And chase every hare.

We do not know that it may be a hare. We do not know.

If the Deputy's mistake is that he assumes no survey was made, let me tell him that a very great deal of money was spent in recent years on these explorations.

Has there been a competent survey to find out whether we have coal or not? If the Minister tells me a competent survey was made and that there is no coal, I will accept that once and for all.

There is coal, but not anything like the quantity that the Coal Commission in 1921 was talking about.

Is the coal that is there not worth developing?

We are producing 2,000 tons a week and that is not bad.

Only 2,000 tons a week. I know a company that would want 9,000 tons a week. Then the Minister says 2,000 tons a week is not bad. If England adopted that attitude, how long would she last with her big industries?

Is that 2,000 tons a week in the whole country?

In the area the Deputy is talking about.

Mr. Morrissey

That is in existing collieries?

Mr. Morrissey

Is that the total production?

No. The total production is nearly 200,000 tons a year—say 150,000 tons a year.

Has the Minister definite information that as yet untapped areas have coal or have not?

So far as Arigna is concerned, we spent £35,000 and employed an expert French company to explore it and find out the amounts there. Their report is that there are limited reserves of coal, which would not justify any larger working than is now taking place.

Very good. In Westport some 16 or 18 months ago, on the occasion of a by-election in my constituency, the Minister promised bog development in County Mayo, where there are fairly large areas of bog. That promise has not materialised or borne fruit, nor does it seem likely to do so.

Surely there is a great deal of turf production in Mayo?

There could be a great deal more. There are areas of bog of good quality in North Mayo, though they may be very far from the rail head. I suggested at the time that the turf should be cut and saved on a very extensive scale and that an electric station be erected to convert it into electric power, which could be brought on a line from the station. That would provide employment in the area, but nothing has been done. The population of our county fell from 161,000 in 1936 to 148,000 at the last census, which does not show that we are moving in the right direction. Most of the 13,000 who have left have gone to England, to stay there permanently.

The area I speak of is a poor area, where the holdings are small and where even the best of the land is wretched. It is a job for the Minister for Industry and Commerce, rather than the Minister for Lands or the Minister for Agriculture, to come to these people's rescue by way of local employment. A good deal has been said about decentralisation. That must come about if we are to save the rural areas and save the peasantry from extinction. Another suggestion I make is that small industries be developed in these areas, so that the surplus population, instead of turning their eyes across the water to England or America, can earn a modest week's wages in industry. I can assure the Minister there would not be such a flight from the land in those areas if that were done. It may not cure the evil altogether, but it would be of assistance in checking it. The first step is turf production on the lines I have suggested. If it is not a commercial or an economic proposition to convey the turf to the towns and cities, where it can be used, owing to the distance of 40 or 50 miles from the nearest railway and the necessity for a new line or a new road, then let the turf be saved on the spot and converted into current on the spot, to give local employment. On the heels of that, as the bogs are depleted of the turf, they can be drained, levelled and planned and much useful ground will be secured in a short time. That is the line to follow in the rural districts where the bogs are plentiful and where it is impossible to do anything but turn the turf into power of some kind or other. I ask the Minister to follow up that proposition carefully.

I spoke on a few occasions about the turf in the Phaenix Park, but it seems I must have been wasting my time. I suggested that at least three or four months' ration for Dublin should be roofed. The Minister is not dealing with coal, which may be proof against the weather. I have no experience of coal, but I have of turf and I know that the very best quality is not proof against the weather, even where it is in stacks in a very exposed condition and open to all the drying possible. The Park is not a suitable place for it, because of the trees and the shelter. The turf catches the rain and the stacks are all wrong. Some Deputies want the turf industry torn down altogether. I say that that should not be done. It is bringing money into many houses that badly need it and is their only means of income. Do not do away with it.

However, if you want to develop the turf industry, you must give to those who are depending for a fire on it dry turf such as may be seen in a farmer's house, to make a cheerful blazing fire; and that turf must be sold at the right price. The turf must not be stacked in a way in which it will rot. I saw a lot of turf in small stacks, set out to dry in the Park. Turf once it is dry and becomes thoroughly wet is of no use. It expands until it is like a bunch of rags or a handful of hay. Three or four months' supply should be saved as an iron ration for the city and roofed, no matter what the cost. If we are going to have coal plentiful, that need not be done, but if we want to give the people in the city a decent turf fire, it must be roofed for the winter months. A vast amount of expense could be saved if Córas Iompair Eireann established proper sidings for the loading of lorries, so that they could come along and drop their sides into the wagon instead of having three or four men on top of each wagon. Each wagon should be covered with a tarpaulin.

Where will we get the tarpaulins? You could not have bought a tarpaulin for the last four or five years.

Surely some measures could have been taken to cover the wagons in some way? There could have been some kind of cover across the wagons with a central belt missing. I refer to the wagons with the centre belt missing. That material can be produced at home. The average ton of turf that I have seen sold to the people in Dublin contains about 14 or 15 cwt. of turf and the rest is water.

I think the Deputy should put it the other way— 14 or 15 cwt. of water and the rest turf.

I would not go that far. I want to say a word on industry. Some of our Irish factories are second to none. The quality of the goods they produce is the best and they are fit to compare with any foreign article. Unfortunately, that cannot be said of all. The average Irish man and woman is as proud of a good Irish article as anybody could be and will buy it even though a little bit more has to be paid for it. There is one thing that the average worker, whether on the land or in any other employment likes to have, and that is a good tool, no matter what he pays for it, or where it comes from. He likes that tool to be well made. It is going to be a handicap to him if it is awkward to handle and is not shaped properly. Some of our Irish industries are, I am afraid, asking us to buy articles that are of inferior quality. It may be that that is due to a shortage of raw materials. There are some articles, at any rate, that are not as good as we would like them to be—not as good as the American or the British article. Perhaps if the times were normal they would be able to produce an article equally as good as any made outside the country. I think they should try to keep abreast of the latest designs and improve the quality of the articles they produce. The Minister and his Department should see to that. As I say, our people desire above all things to buy the Irish article. They like to buy the one that is stamped "Deanta in Eirinn", and do not want those that come from Japan, from Britain or from Germany if they can get one of as good quality made at home at a fair price. These demands, I think, are not unreasonable and should help to put Irish industry on its feet. Our people are nationally-minded and are anxious to foster Irish industry. They want to give employment, but they want quality in the Irish-made article and they want it at a reasonable price. That applies to all Irish articles whether it is an agricultural implement, some tool or some household utensil. I would impress on the Minister to make a special effort to see that, as regards Irish-manufactured goods, quality above all else is right. I know that at the present time there may be difficulties in getting raw materials and that our manufacturers cannot pick and choose. However, I hope this matter will receive the Minister's attention.

In the case of catering establishments, I think that as regards tea, sugar and butter rationing the Minister should now be able to do something to facilitate those who, having no other means of earning a livelihood, desire to become caterers. There must have been a good deal of savings effected during the war years through the efforts of the Department. I know that in one case, where a check-up was made, a hotel which had been getting 28 lbs. of tea, to mention one item, was cut down to 10 lbs. There was a saving, therefore, of 18 lbs. of tea in that one case. I am putting it to the Minister that it should be possible for him to meet the claims of deserving applicants, even though that might mean breaking one of his own regulations. A person, say, might not be in the business at a certain date. Take the case of a person who, through no fault of her own and through some unforeseen circumstance, had no other prospect, when she had reached middle age or old age, of earning a livelihood except by making a start in the catering business. I think, in a case like that, the Minister might relax his regulations and give that person a permit for supplies to enter the catering business. I brought one such case to the notice of the Department. I think it is cruel and harsh that some cast-iron rule should operate to prevent that person getting a permit. Through the efforts of the Minister's officers the saving in respect of the rationed commodities I have mentioned must be very great indeed, and I hope that something will be done to meet the requirements of deserving applicants.

I also hope that a small increased ration of bread will be made available for bog workers. There are some who have not got the increased ration yet. I have in mind now some who are cutting for the national pool, for farmers or for themselves. I know, of course, that quite a number of these have already been dealt with, but there are others who have not. When they leave their homes they have to bring their dinner with them, which usually consists of tea, bread and a few eggs. It would be very hard if one man found that his ration of bread was not as big as that of the man who was cutting beside him, and that the difference was due to the fact that he did not fall into some particular category. I trust the Minister will be able to remedy that. He may reply that he cannot divide out more flour or bread than he has got. I would ask him to pay particular attention to cases such as I have mentioned.

When we are discussing an important Estimate and the work of a very important Department we might reasonably expect to hear some useful criticism of a constructive nature, but that seems to be lacking in general, and in particular from the Front Bench of the principal Opposition——

It is a long time since we heard anything constructive from the far side.

——and if not from the leaders one might hope that there would be something constructive said from the back benches. One must conclude that there is very little hope of that, after listening to Deputy Giles this evening. The Deputy referred to a lot of things that he said we were short of in this country. In one part of his speech he mentioned flour, butter and all the rest, and following on that he said the Minister should ease off the pressure in wheat growing and that it should be cut out altogether, that the land of the country is not suitable for it. I thought we had listened long enough to those silly statements coming from Deputy Dillon and others and that we had learned the lesson of the importance of wheat. I thought we would have learned a lesson from the position in other countries at present; that we would know that other countries have not got any of the commodities I have mentioned and that, therefore, it is impossible for us to import them, at any price. We have had to rely on our own resources and there can be no fraction of doubt in any-body's mind that we will have to rely on our own resources for a long time to come. Instead of these statements there should be statements that would be a little more helpful to the people who are asked to produce the commodities that we require at the moment.

I listened this evening to a statement made by Deputy Everett that farmers are unable to produce food because they are not getting an extra ration of flour. I have very little sympathy with the idea of giving any farmer an extra ration of flour. Every farmer is growing his own wheat and, if he is unable to have flour for his own table, I say he is a bad farmer. The only people with whom I have any sympathy in the matter of flour rationing are town dwellers and town workers. Of course, many bog workers are to a certain extent in need of extra rations but not at all to the extent that has been suggested. The Department have been looking after those people pretty well and have looked after them fairly well all through the emergency. They got extra rations of tea when it was very hard for others to get them. They have not fared too badly. I am sure the Department will continue to treat them in that way.

There are a few things that I should like the Department to deal with. During the course of the debate there has been a certain amount of criticism of road and rail freight charges. I understood that when we came to the assistance of the railway company, one of the things we would achieve was uniformity in road and rail charges. I did not anticipate that there would be any differentiation between road and rail charges. I cannot understand why it is that a passenger can travel a particular journey by bus at a much cheaper rate than he can travel by rail and at the same time transport of goods by road is much more costly than it is by rail. There is something wrong there that will have to be rectified.

In the west, this year, I suppose I took the most active part in a drive to secure extra beet for the Tuam factory and other factories. One of the difficulties was the question of road freight charges. It is killing the beet industry and killing it fast. The time is at hand when we should face up to facts and the facts in connection with road freight are as follow: In the Tuam Beet Factory we have private lorries working for the railway company. These lorries are engaged in the haulage of beet all day long. The railway company get 7½ per cent. of their earnings. During all the emergency, if it had not been for the private lorries our beet factories would have closed down. There was ample time, since the formation of Córas Iompair Eireann, for that company to have faced up seriously to the problem of procuring lorries but they have not got them yet and they have not made any attempt to get them. The result is that they are hiring private lorries. The drivers of these lorries work all sorts of hours. Sometimes they commence at 9 a.m. and work until 5 p.m. That may continue for a fortnight. Beet may be in short supply at the factory and the sugar company decide to leave the gates of the factory open until 11 p.m. and the lorry owners may start at about 8 a.m. and work until that hour. I always thought that the reason for having a Transport Act under which certain lorries would be licensed for haulage and others would be put off the road was that drivers had to work every and any hours and that we were coming to an end of that system. That has not happened yet.

I suggest to the Minister that, while the railway company lack sufficient road transport, the private haulier should be allowed to ply and to contract on his own behalf. If the Minister puts that suggestion into effect, I can assure him, in so far as the factory in the West of Ireland is concerned, at any rate, that as much beet will be brought to that factory as it is able to manufacture in a year.

The freight charges on beet are entirely too high, particularly by road. Although 7½ per cent. of a lorry owner's earnings has to be handed over to the railway company, many men who started with an old crock of a lorry a few years ago were able to purchase a new one. Some men have two lorries on the road. It was the beet industry that enabled them to do so. That clearly shows that there is a good deal of money to be made out of the haulage of beet and it can be made at a much cheaper rate than the present rate. If the industry is to be saved, the railway company, until such time as they are able to put their own fleet on the road, should allow the private haulier to compete. If that is done, freight charges will be reduced by 50 per cent. It is the present freight charges that are killing the beet industry.

I want to join Deputy Beegan in the protest he has made. First let me say that I am not at all certain about what rumour has to say, because rumour is more often wrong than right. For instance, Deputy Blowick's statement, that the line from Athlone to Westport is to be closed down, is something I would not believe, but I am informed that the branch line referred to by Deputy Beegan—Loughrea and Attymon—is to be closed down. That would create a deplorable state of affairs in the area and I sincerely hope that when the matter comes to the Minister's notice he will not allow it to happen.

In so far as industries are concerned, I have been in touch with people in Tuam and other centres who are very interested in seeing what type of industry could be established in towns in the West of Ireland. The only document we can refer to is of very little use in reference to those districts—that is, the Trade and Shipping Statistics Journal. It is too difficult to make a selection and too difficult to understand from the figures there what could be done to start an industry When you see that there is room for a particular industry, you find on inquiry that it has been established in some other district.

The result is that the secretary of any of those development committees that are trying to make a serious effort to start industries would want a staff here in the Department to make inquiries because most of them so far as I can understand when they look up the journal and pick on something find out that someone else has started on it. I suppose it is very difficult to keep trade and shipping statistics up to date, but surely some other way could be adopted of giving more information so that people wishing to start a trade or some suitable type of industry that could be started in the different parts of the country would be suited.

I wish to make a few observations on the subject of turf production. Deputy Beegan mentioned the differential wages as between Bord na Móna and the county councils. Well, the wages paid by the Galway County Council are about 45/- weekly, but it is not true to say that that is the only wage paid to turf workers. Good sleansmen working on piecework earn over £6 a week, and other people who are barrowing turf from them earn 15/- to 16/- a day. Both bodies should try to make an effort to give more work on contract. Men are anxious to earn a good week's wages, and if we can get to a contract system all round we will get a much better production and we will not have this obstacle of one body paying one wage and another body paying a different wage. It is very hard for the county council to produce turf while that state of affairs exists. I have a suggestion to make. If more money is spent on bog development— on drainage and on roads—private individuals will produce more turf. Quite recently we had such an experience when we opened up and took off all the controls on timber. We saw then the way it came into Dublin. I think that if more money were spent on bog development, which is an essential work, the money will always give a return.

Even if the fuel position were to be relieved to-morrow morning the development of bogs will always be useful to our people, and if more money is spent on the development of bogs by making drains and roads, the private individual will produce much more turf. I know private individuals producing turf who are up against every and any kind of obstacle. They often have to carry turf on their backs a couple of hundred yards or else barrow it out that distance when it is dry. I also think that some encouragement should be given to private lorry owners and that some arrangement should be made with them for the delivery of turf. They could buy and deliver an enormous amount of turf which is now lying in the bogs all over the country. In my particular county plenty of turf could be delivered early in the year if sale could have been got for it. I know that local consumption will always look after itself but if the roads and drains are looked after increased production will result.

I should like to make one other observation. Many fairly large towns in the West of Ireland are still without electricity. Rural electrification is supposed to be the talk of the day and the people in these towns have a grievance. Towns such as Dunmore and Headford are without any electricity supply at the moment, and I think the Minister should remind the Electricity Supply Board people to travel a little faster in the direction of providing supplies which would be very welcome to those towns.

I am very glad to hear what has been said here to-night about the beet industry. I have been working at it for the last three or four years. I wish to say that freight has killed the beet industry of our country. I was very glad to hear Deputy Killilea admit that though the private lorry-owner has to give 7½ per cent. to the railway company, nevertheless, he is able to make a handsome profit. That goes to show that Córas Iompair Éireann are in a position to reduce greatly the freight. I wish, as a farmer, to protest strongly against the 20 per cent. increase on freight. It is scandalous for the Minister to have allowed it. It is putting a greater burden on the farmer and the producer. Our affairs have been held up and we are being charged at 20 per cent. more for the freight-held cattle than before. Consider what the farmers are up against if the closing of all these railway branch lines is persisted in as is contemplated. I wish to join in protesting against the closing of these lines. The railway porters have been dismissed and told that there is no further work for them there. The line from Ballywilliam to Cavan feeds the Mullingar fair, the Edgeworthstown fair, and all the western fairs. If that branch line is closed down it is going to cut the North of Ireland off completely for the transport of stock. Anyone who lives along the line from Ballywilliam to Cavan knows that train-load after train-load of stock goes down to the North of Ireland in the season. Our only alternative is to bring the cattle to Dublin and then to the North of Ireland.

There seems to be no doubt that the line will be closed because the signal-man has got notice and has been told that he would get no more employment there. The man was in my house trying to get a job at Mullingar railway. I am glad to see that the Minister still has power to stop the closing of these lines. Even if they are no longer a paying proposition they are there for the convenience of the people and the Government and the country are backing the railways. Railways will be the only cheap mode of transport. I hear, with regard to the Ballywilliam line, that the railway company are taking off goods going to Ballywilliam at Mullingar and taking them by road transport. There is only one weekly service by this railway transport and with only one lorry the shopkeeper finds that week after week it is not able to take half the goods. That is a thing which the railway company should not be allowed to do.

Progress reported.

I believe it was originally arranged that the Sinn Féin Funds Bill would be taken to-morrow immediately after Questions, but I understand now that that Bill will not be taken until after Questions on Thursday and that we will continue the discussion of Estimates after Questions to-morrow. Is that so?

That is so.

The Dáil adjourned at 10.30 p.m. until 3 p.m., Wednesday, 23rd April, 1947.