Léim ar aghaidh chuig an bpríomhábhar

Dáil Éireann díospóireacht -
Thursday, 18 Feb 1954

Vol. 144 No. 6

Committee on Finance. - Industrial Research and Standards (Amendment) Bill, 1953—Second and Subsequent Stages.

I move that the Bill be now read a Second Time. The main purpose of this Bill is to raise the limits of the Grant-in-Aid to the Institute for Industrial Research and Standards from the present level of £15,000 per year to a maximum of £35,000 per year. It is necessary to make provision for a large annual grant because the institute cannot effectively discharge its functions within the limits of the present grant.

The Industrial Research and Standards Act of 1946 established the institute with the primary functions of undertaking and carrying out scientific research, and of formulating specifications for commodities, processes and practices. As the House is probably aware, the institute consists of a council, the Industrial Research Committee, the Standards Committee and the director. The functions of the council are mainly advisory. The Industrial Research Committee are responsible for deciding what research work will be undertaken and responsible also for the general administration of the whole institute. The Standards Committee formulates standard specifications and, as the law stands at present, these are ultimately brought into operation by ministerial Order. The primary duties of the director are to direct and supervise the conduct of both the research and standards work of the institute. The institute, at present, is financed by this fixed statutory grant of £15,000. It may, under the legislation, and has, in fact, received grants towards defraying the capital cost of land, buildings and equipment. The Act provides also for grants for special investigations at the request of the Minister, with the concurrence of the Minister for Finance, but, in fact, no such grants have been made. The Act also contemplates the institute charging fees for researches, tests and analyses carried out for private firms, but the revenue accruing to it under that head has not, as yet, proved very substantial. In practice, the institute is dependent almost entirely on the annual State grant of £15,000 to cover working costs.

The institute developed rather gradually. At first, it had to acquire suitable office accommodation and laboratory premises and build up a skilled staff, purchase a large amount of technical equipment and a satisfactory reference library. The premises were secured in Glasnevin House and the laboratories were erected there. The cost of Glasnevin House was approximately £9,000; the laboratories cost £27,000 to erect; and the equipment and reference library cost about £15,000, making a total of about £51,000 which was given by way of special grants under the appropriate section of the 1946 Act for these capital purposes. While these facilities were being provided, the institute was not spending the whole of the fixed annual grant of £15,000 per year. In the earlier years of its operations, that grant was more than enough to meet its outgoings and the result was that, over a period of time, the institute accumulated a reserve of about £29,000, representing the unspent balances of annual grants. In the past few years, however, the expenditure of the institute has been running above the level of the annual grant and that excess spending has been met out of the accumulated reserve which had been reduced to about £27,000 on 31st March last.

Since it was set up in 1946, the institute has had to some extent to avoid attracting work with which it was not equipped to cope. The institute, however, has carried out some very useful research projects and Deputies will have seen in this evening's newspapers a report of the operation of a machine developed in the institute for the cleaning and grading of carrageen moss. They have carried out a number of important investigations mainly on their own initiative in matters which were of particular concern and some at the specific request of the Minister for Industry and Commerce.

A good deal of progress has been made in the field of standards. At present, standard specifications for commodities are formulated by the committee of the institute and are declared by the Minister to be standard specifications under the Act. I should like to say that, in formulating the standard specifications, the committee have always had the full co-operation of Irish manufacturers and are greatly indebted to the technical men in industry for their assistance in drafting specifications. There has been a very useful combination of effort in that field. The advisory committees which were set up to help in the formulation of specifications almost invariably invite technologists from the industries interested in the investigations, either as manufacturers or users.

Up to date, standard specification Orders have been made in respect of 54 commodities. There are six more standard specification Orders about to be made and work is proceeding on specifications for about 20 further commodities. The Standards Committee has before it requests from me for the formulation of specifications for a further 60 commodities upon which work has not yet started.

Reference to the standard specification Orders brings in the question of the standard mark. Up to date, standard marks have been prescribed for 46 of the commodities for which standard specification Orders have been made. For some time past, I have been endeavouring to encourage manufacturers of goods for which there are standard specifications to produce their goods in conformity with the specifications and to use the standard mark. I must say, however, that the results have been rather disappointing. So far, only 68 applications for licences to use the standard mark have been received and granted.

I have had under consideration the further steps that might be taken to popularise the use of the standard mark. I have stated publicly on more than one occasion that decisions upon applications for the amendment of tariffs or for other concessions by firms or associations of firms interested in goods for which there is a standard specification will be influenced by the extent to which the applicants are making the goods to the specification and using the standard mark as proof of the fact that they are so doing. I have also arranged that, for an experimental period of one year, Government Departments will in appropriate cases ask firms tendering for the supply of goods whether the goods they propose to supply would bear the standard mark and a similar arrangement is under consideration in relation to purchases made by State-sponsored bodies. That arrangement will be reviewed at the end of the year in the light of its effectiveness when decisions may be made as to what further measures may be required.

For some time past, the institute has had under consideration an extension of its activities in the field of research, as well as in the field of standards, and has been planning an extension of its organisation which would involve it in annual expenditure considerably in excess of the present statutory provision of £15,000. The institute is anxious to adopt a more aggressive policy in relation to industrial research and plans to have some of the scientists and engineers in its service go out and canvass manufacturers in their factories, to act as field men who will report back to the institute on the problems they may uncover and help the institute to set about seeking solutions of these problems.

The institute is the official technical information centre for this country under O.E.E.C. and it obtains a great deal of useful information from that body and also from the Office of Technical Services of the United States Department of Commerce. That information, however, has not been disseminated amongst manufacturers who should be interested in it as adequately as would have been desirable, and a further part of the institute's plans involves the distribution of that information, both information already accumulated and information which may come to hand in future, to industrialists and other interested persons and organisations on a much wider and more intensive scale.

The application of scientific methods to the problems of industry is dependent to a great extent on the co-operation which the industrialist is prepared to give in bringing specific problems to the institute and adopting the suggestions which the institute may make for their solution. Industrial firms which employ trained scientists and engineers are in a much stronger position to apply the results of scientific discoveries made elsewhere.

On the standards side, I have said that the institute has at present a list of 60 commodities in respect of which specifications are desired but on which work has not yet started. That list will, no doubt, be added to and, furthermore, it is desirable that the institute should keep under constant review developments in manufacturing processes and improvements in the methods of testing the quality of goods or the performance of apparatus with a view to making such revisions of the specifications already published as may be found to be desirable. During the past few years the rate of production of specifications has been six to eight per year. That output is too low. The output of Irish standards is very small by comparison with the work of the standards organisations of other small European countries. The institute, therefore, proposes to provide more staff for standards work with a view to keeping up to date the work of revising the specifications which have already been published and to increasing the rate of output of new specifications to something approaching twice the present rate.

Industrial research and the formulation of standard specifications are essential to the development of a sound industrial organisation within the protection afforded by tariffs and import quotas. The extension of the activities of the institute is an integral part of the whole campaign to raise the all-round efficiency of Irish industry. I have on many occasions recently spoken on the importance of that campaign to raise the level of efficiency in Irish industry and the reduction of its production costs. I hold strongly to the view that getting industrial costs down is now a matter of vital importance if industrial employment is to be maintained and if further industrial development is to be achieved. In any case where costs are too high at present or where costs are tending to rise unduly, action will have to be taken to rectify that position, and I should, I think, make it clear that action will not stop short of reducing or withdrawing protection where no other measure seems likely to be effective. Most of us, however, will agree that it is far preferable to endeavour to deal with the situation in industry by getting increased efficiency and higher output, and the Institute of Industrial Research can make a useful contribution to that end with the co-operation of Irish industrialists. The institute can play a much more effective part than it has been able to play up to the present in solving the many problems relating to production and manufacturing techniques. With regard to standard specifications it will be, I think, generally desired that those specifications should be prepared for as many commodities as possible, and particularly for commodities which are manufactured here under protection.

I would also like to see the institute in a position to undertake work on the testing of commodities on a larger scale than has been possible up to the present. The testing of commodities is of dual importance. It is useful in the preparation of standard specifications and in the solution of the technical problems of industry. It is also of importance in protecting the purchasing public against the sale of inferior goods. At the last annual meeting of the council of the institute which I was invited to address I expressed the desire that the institute should undertake more testing work on goods for which there are standard specifications with a view to seeing whether these goods are manufactured in conformity with the specifications; and I urged that the institute should consider publishing the results of those tests so that the consumer may be in a position to judge for himself whether he is getting value for his money.

Coming on to the specific matter of finance, I have explained that the institute has accumulated a reserve fund of £27,000. Notwithstanding the fact that the enactment of this Bill will not involve any contribution from the Exchequer in the immediate future in excess of the £15,000 a year which has been allocated to the institute previously, notwithstanding that with this reserve fund the institute could have of its own initiative enlarged its expenditure, I felt myself precluded from sanctioning proposals which involved continuing commitments which would bring the expenditure of the institute permanently above the £15,000 a year level without first obtaining the approval of the Oireachtas by the introduction of a Bill of this kind. The situation in future will be somewhat different from what it has been in the past. In the past the institute got £15,000 a year automatically under the provisions of the legislation. In future moneys will be paid out to the institute as they are voted by the Dáil to a maximum of £35,000 in any one year. In other words, there now will be, instead of a fixed annual contribution, a grant of an amount determined on the basis of an estimate of expenditure to be incurred in the financial year, an estimate which will be prepared and submitted to the Minister for Industry and Commerce by the Industrial Research Committee of the institute.

Does the Minister mean by that that if the £35,000 is not used up it will come back as an Appropriation-in-Aid?

No. Up to the present the institute got £15,000 a year without any investigation as to whether it needed it. In some years it got it even though its expenditure was considerably less. In future there will be an estimate of its expenditure during the year and that will represent the amount that will be paid to the institute, up to a maximum of £35,000.

What is the situation so, if there is only £25,000 required?

That is all they will get.

Will the balance of £10,000 come back as an Appropriation-in-Aid?

No. The position in the immediate future will be this. In agreement with the committee of the institute expenditure will be met out of the reserve fund they have accumulated until that reserve fund has been reduced to £10,000; in other words, the committee will continue to receive next year just the £15,000 which it has been getting up to the present, but the difference will be that it can now plan a programme of work which will involve a continuing annual expenditure on a higher level. Whatever level of expenditure may be reached, it will have to be met by annual Votes from the Dáil up to the limit of £35,000 per year. That is the only change which is being made in the Bill.

So far as the financing of the institute is concerned, the provisions in the existing Act relative to the making of capital grants for land, building and equipment will remain unchanged, as will also the provision for the making of grants for special investigations. I think the House is aware that the Government has sought the approval of the United States authorities for the allocation of £130,000 from the Grant Counterpart Fund for the provision of additional laboratories for the institute. It is hoped that that matter will be finalised in the early future.

The Bill, however, contemplates certain other changes based upon our experience of the 1946 Act and the provisions of that Act. The original Act contemplated a procedure for the declaration of standard specifications and the prescribing of standard marks on the basis of Orders made by the Minister for Industry and Commerce. These specifications are technical documents and I have come to the conclusion, as has the committee of the institute, that it would be more appropriate that they should be declared to be standard specifications by the institute rather than by the Minister. It is therefore proposed to repeal Section 20 of the 1946 Act and to replace it by Section 2 of this Bill which provides that the institute may, with the consent of the Minister, declare specifications to be standard specifications; and in future standard specifications will be published and placed on sale by the institute instead of by the Stationery Office. Notice of the declaration of standard specifications will be published by the institute in Iris Oifigiúil and in such other manner as the Minister may direct.

There is also a change contemplated in relation to the standard mark. The 1946 Act provided that the Minister may prescribe a standard mark for a specified commodity, process or practice, to indicate that it conforms to the standard specification. Under the section as it was framed a separate standard mark Order had to be made for each commodity for which there was a standard specification. It is proposed under Section 5 of this Bill to take power to prescribe a standard mark for use in connection with all commodities to indicate that they conform to standard specifications. When the Bill is passed one standard mark Order, therefore, will be made which will prescribe the mark to be used in connection with all commodities which conform to the specifications. It is provided that that general standard mark may not be used in connection with a commodity except in conjunction with a serial number assigned by the institute to the standard specification for that commodity. Standard marks may not, of course, be used except under licence from the Minister and the relevant licensing provisions of the 1946 Act are not being changed.

The institute has for some time past not been very happy about the position in relation to its staff and I have had under consideration representations made by it particularly in regard to the difficulty it experiences in recruiting temporary staff and also certain difficulties in the matter of the recruitment of permanent staff. The original Act provided that the numbers, grades, remuneration, tenure of office and conditions of service of members of the staff should be determined by the director with the approval of the Minister, given after consultation with the Minister for Finance. It also provided that consultation would not be required in respect of persons proposed to be employed for less than a period of 12 months. Under this Bill that period of 12 months is being extended to three years. The institute argue, and I think with force, that investigations undertaken by it for which temporary staff are recruited usually last longer than 12 months and difficulty was likely to be experienced in recruiting suitable temporary staff for yearly periods. The existing limit of 12 months proved to be an inconvenience to the institute. The committee is satisfied that a limit of three years would be more reasonable and provision to that effect is accordingly being made in this Bill.

That will solve the institute's difficulties so far as the temporary staff is concerned. So far as they have had problems relating to permanent staff, discussions are taking place at present with the institute with a view to giving it as much freedom as possible in the recruitment of its staff. When final agreement has been reached in that matter, and I anticipate that will not be long delayed, the institute will be in a position to recruit quickly the permanent staff it requires.

There are one or two other minor changes which this Bill proposes. Under the Act of 1946 the Industrial Research Committee was empowered to fix the remuneration of the members of that committee as well as of the Standards Committee. Under this Bill it is proposed that in future the remuneration of members of these committees will be fixed by the Minister. The Industrial Research Committee have always felt that it was invidious that they should be asked to determine the value of their own services as well as the value of the services of the Standards Committee, and I think we made a mistake in framing the original Act in that form. In any event, this is a change which would follow logically from the change in the method of financing the institute that is now proposed.

The idea in 1946 was that the committee got £15,000 per year, and that was all it would get, the committee being entrusted to use that sum in the best way, paying themselves such fees as they thought proper to their work and devoting the rest to the service of the institute. In the new circumstances, where an estimate of expenditure will be required and where the amount to be voted may vary from time to time according to the work to be done, then the normal practice of having the fees of the committee fixed by ministerial Order seems more proper and appropriate.

One other change of minor importance relates to the filling of casual vacancies on the council. The council is, as I mentioned, an advisory body. It consists of some 50, or so, people prominent in scientific, academic, or industrial fields and the position at present is that casual vacancies are filled by the Minister on the recommendation of the Industrial Research Committee with the prior approval of the council. There is, however, only one meeting of the council every year and consequently if the Industrial Research Committee felt that casual vacancies should be filled, there is a delay of at least a year in the making of appointments by the Minister on the recommendation of the committee. Section 9 of this Bill proposes to amend that clause so as to permit the filling of casual vacancies without the prior approval of the council.

These are all the changes contemplated in this legislation in relation to this Institute of Industrial Research and Standards and I recommend it to the House.

I think there will be general approval for the proposals in the Bill. I am somewhat surprised that the increase from £15,000 per annum to £35,000 per annum is sufficient. From my contact with the institute, I know that they were always afraid of being short of money, if they did not actually expend the amount allocated in certain years, and I think the institute, in fact, felt that the ceiling imposed by the 1946 Act was too low. If the Minister says that the sum proposed in this amending Bill is sufficient, then I assume that this body is satisfied with it.

I think we are all prepared to recognise the extent to which scientific and industrial research has advanced. In fact, the very remarkable developments which have occurred down through the years, but more particularly in recent years, and the advances in science have brought home to people the extent to which in many cases communities are indebted to scientists, engineers and other persons skilled in dealing with what are generally regarded as scientific matters. We are also aware of the very costly plant and equipment required for a laboratory when research has to be carried on. For that reason, it is, I think, in general appreciated that the financial assistance which is provided under the facilities afforded by the 1946 Act, which it is proposed to extend now, are not nearly adequate for the general requirements of the community. I believe that we should have some system under which grants would be made available directly to firms or undertakings that are prepared to carry out industrial or scientific research.

It is commonly known that the larger firms in this country have laboratories and employ either engineers, scientists or chemists who are engaged on particular matters pertaining to the particular firm's requirements. The same is true of the larger firms, and indeed some smaller firms, in other countries. But in this country most of the research is either carried on through whatever facilities are provided in the universities or by the direct work done in individual cases where the firms are in a position to finance the undertaking themselves. I do not think it advisable to mention individual firms by name, but it is generally known that a great number of the larger firms have laboratories and engage scientists and engineers. Because of the fact, however, that this is confined almost exclusively to these firms, the prospects for skilled personnel in this country to secure employment are almost entirely dependent either on local authorities in the case of engineers or some of the bigger undertakings like the E.S.B. and Bord na Móna and, with a few exceptions, skilled personnel are obliged when they are trained or receive their degree to seek employment abroad. For that reason alone, I think any steps which it is possible to take to provide facilities under which research, either of a scientific or industrial engineering character, can be undertaken should receive the maximum possible assistance.

I do not think anybody has ever been particularly happy about the success that has attended the Institute for Industrial Research and Standards. It is not that the personnel in charge or the work carried out is not up to the highest level, but that it has failed to attract the requisite public notice which it should receive. I notice from the figures given by the Minister in connection with the standard specifications and marks the extraordinarily low number of applications, amounting only to 68 altogether, for permission to use the standard mark. I believe that the standard mark is not sufficiently recognised as entitling those who use it to have their products or commodities regarded as up to a specified standard.

I must say that in my experience, when matters came up for approval of standard specifications or approval for the issue of a standard mark, it always seemed to me that the matter was formal rather than a reality. The standard mark is issued and if anybody inquires about it they will probably be able to get the information. But, generally, standard specifications and marks do not get sufficient public notice. That may not be the fault of the institute; it may lie with manufacturers or persons entitled to use the standard mark. But I feel that the extent to which the quality of the commodity produced is known to be due to the standard mark is not getting anything like the recognition which it should. I believe that the time has come when certainly, in so far as certain commodities are concerned, the Minister's Department and other Departments dealing with certain particular commodities will require to be rather vigilant. I do not wish to have my remarks misinterpreted, but where foodstuffs are concerned or, in particular where exports from this country are concerned, only goods of the highest quality should be marketed.

Many years ago when the creameries were first organised there was difficulty about getting butter of the highest quality, and I think about the same time there was difficulty about getting eggs of the highest quality. Since then standards have improved to the highest level and the butter and eggs now exported from this country measure up to the best standards available anywhere. But, if any commodities exported from this country have attached to them a suspicion that they are not measuring up to the highest standard of quality, that will inevitably react, not merely on the firms concerned, but on the general good name of the goods exported from this country. So far as that is concerned, I believe that the Minister should consider, in consultation with the Institute for Industrial Research and Standards, what steps are available to him, in collaboration with any other Department affected, to see that all commodities exported measure up to the highest standards, certainly in any case where facilities are afforded either directly or indirectly by the State through protection or otherwise.

The Minister recently referred on a number of occasions to the need for efficiency in industrial production with particular attention to costs. He stated that every effort must be made to get costs down and that the continuance of protection or of other assistance will depend on the efforts made to reduce costs. I think there will be general agreement with the object which he hopes to achieve, but I believe that he has not paid sufficient attention to a number of factors over which industrialists have no control. A variety of factors affect costs. Those generally considered are the price of raw materials, labour content, transport charges and so forth. In so far as industrialists are concerned, some of these costs may be within their own control. In others, such as taxation, rates and matters of that sort, it is either the Government or some other external body over which manufacturers have no control that determines the level at which these costs or charges will operate. So far as industry here is concerned, taxation and rates affect costs very considerably and the tendency recently has been for taxation and rates to increase. There are in certain cases other factors. The import prices of some raw materials are higher here than in Great Britain. I have in mind one particular item. It is not a matter for which the Government is responsible but for years we know that the price of coal imported here is something like £1 or 25/- per ton more than is charged to consumers in Great Britain. The same remarks apply to steel.

What relation has that to this Bill?

I think the Minister referred to costs, and I think I would be in order in referring to any steps that would be available under this measure to reduce costs. I believe the Minister in discussing these matters should take into account the effect of external factors over which management or labour has no direct control. The amendments of a minor character which it is proposed to make are all desirable. So far as staff are concerned, I think it has always been considered unsatisfactory, from the point of view of those employed, that their position was not more clearly defined and while this amendment will alter the position somewhat, it might be possible to establish the staff there on a basis which would give them that security which persons of their training, and generally persons with appropriate degrees, would expect. The fact that anybody working in an institution of this character has any worries about his personal position, emoluments, prospects of future retention and so forth, must to some extent affect his efficiency and usefulness. In so far as the proposals contained in this Bill are designed to advance industrial research or to provide more definite facilities for that work, it will receive the general welcome which a proposal of that nature should get.

I merely want to make a few remarks, and to ask a few questions in relation to the Bill which, like Deputy Cosgrave, I welcome as a very desirable and very necessary measure in the present circumstances of Irish industry. I think that the Minister's figures in relation to the number of inquiries made in regard to the use of the mark, leave us in no doubt at all that Deputy Cosgrave is right when he says that the public, and I think, to a large extent, manufacturers, have not had their attention sufficiently drawn to the existence of the standard mark or standard specifications. I suggest that the Minister answered that to a certain extent when he said that the council in its early years was attempting to keep away work rather than to attract work. That may be partly the reason why there has been such a small demand from manufacturers for the use of the standard mark.

It is good to know that manufacturers are favourably disposed to the proposition that we should have an enactment of this nature which appears to establish a mark of quality for the products of Irish industry. My own feeling is that there was more than one factor in the past which militated against improving to the maximum the quality of the products of the majority of our industries. Protection by tariffs, which is no doubt a help, and quota restrictions meant that the manufacturer had not got the competition from outside which would make him produce high quality goods at the lowest possible cost. On the whole, I think Irish manufacturers must be congratulated on the fact that the majority of them, at any rate, have not exploited that position to the extent which was possible. Equally, the fact that there is such a small market here for the products of these industries has meant that there is an absence of that actuality of competition that one would expect to find in a country where there would be more than one manufacturer producing the same goods. I know that there is competition in relation to some commodities produced in this country, but it is only natural that when you have one manufacturer equipped with modern machinery to produce in sufficient quantities for the home market, a potential competitor may not consider it worth while to set up another factory to produce a comparable article for that market. The result has been that the small size of the market is adding to the likelihood that in time manufacturers may decide to produce a slipshod article or a poor quality commodity, knowing that they will have no competition either from home or abroad.

Again, there is the other factor which, up to recently, operated in a most deliberate way, namely, restrictive trade practices which, again, restricted competition and permitted manufacturers to produce one quality of article only. Even where apparently there was competition, an agreement was arrived at between manufacturers under which, while there was a semblance of competition, in effect there was no competition at all. That meant that there could be an agreement among manufacturers to produce a low quality article. To a certain extent these abuses are being met, in one case by the inquiry into these practices which is producing so much interesting information for the consuming public and which has met with a certain amount of resentment on the part of some producers. The second antidote to limited competition is being provided by the incentive of the Minister's encouragement to our industrialists to go into the export market. Of course, once that happens, there is the free trade competition which means that the low-cost, high-quality article is the only one with a chance of survival as a result of tariffs and other considerations, if it gets into a foreign market.

The third factor in establishing Irish industry on a proper footing and in getting the best value for consumers would be the widening out of this standard work of quality. What I would like to know is—has the Minister any positive proposals to encourage extensively the use of this mark here at home? On the one side, it is necessary to encourage the public to understand that it is a sign for their protection, a sign which will tell them that an article covered by this particular mark or marked in this particular way means an article of the highest possible quality. Equally, if the public become conscious of that and start asking for this sign and asking to see it on the commodities provided, the manufacturer will follow suit. Is it the intention of the Minister to publicise in a positive, aggressive way or give the Standards Council the power and the money to publicise to the maximum the fact that this organisation exists and that it can do magnificent work, and has done magnificent work in a limited way in the past, and that the personnel, the ability and know-how are there? These people can protect the consumer if the consumer insists on getting an article with this standard mark on it. I believe very much greater publicity and propaganda must be given to the existence of this organisation if the public are to become conscious that they can be sure of a very high quality article if marked by the standard mark.

The Minister has made one reference to this question of the consideration given to the granting of tariffs and the likelihood of tariffs being granted in return for agreement by the manuturer that the standard mark will be used by him. Of course that is a very definite move on the part of the Minister to encourage—I think that is a nice word—to encourage the manufacturer to take out the standard specifications in relation to goods for home consumption and also in relation to goods for export.

Again, I think there is a point which must be considered—I would imagine it must arise at any rate—that if a manufacturer is asked to produce really high quality articles the question of cost enters into it. I wonder if we do demand a wide extension of the use of this mark are we going to get any appreciable increase in the cost content of the articles produced? I understand the Minister has also suggested we should aim at greater efficiency and reduce costs in that way but would he cancel out reduced costs attained by increased efficiency by insisting on very much higher standards? The fact of the matter is that many people have become accustomed to existing standards and possibly do not recognise that they are not getting as high a quality article for their money as they have a right to expect. The question is would there be a very slight fall in prices as a result of increased efficiency and insistence on a much higher standard in quality of the goods? I am all for higher quality, of course, but can you have your cake and eat it? We may not be able to do that. The Minister may be aware of more facts which will give him to understand that we can get higher quality at more or less the same price as we pay at the moment.

The point about encouragement for the public to go looking for the mark —I think that is only a question of intensive propaganda over a period, as soon as there are sufficient articles with the standard mark in the market at home or for export. Is there any likelihood that the Minister could give some incentive to manufacturers? I find it difficult to blame a manufacturer or industrialist if in the home or the export market he can get away with a low standard of quality for thinking he will have no reason to change. One could see him asking himself: Why should I bother to go looking for this mark which commits me to a high-class article, and a higher cost will cut my profit? I would imagine, unless some definite incentive is given to a manufacturer, he is unlikely to go looking for this mark which will insist on his maintaining very high standards of quality. Is there any likelihood that any form of incentive would be given to the manufacturer, some form of tax remission for goods exported with the mark on them or some form of facility abroad by Córas Tráchtála, a facility that we will push articles of this kind or that we will publicise the standard mark abroad and advise our people abroad in the export market that they can be absolutely certain of the quality of the goods under this mark and in that way make it worth while for the industrialist to go for the mark and go into the export market with goods with the Caighdeán Éireann mark on them?

That brings us to the question as to why should the manufacturer go for the mark or go looking for the mark for his goods for the export market unless the export market knows of the very marked difference between the high quality article under the mark, compared with those unmarked and not guaranteed articles. To what extent is the Minister going to publicise this or will he give the powers and facilities to this Standards Council to publicise the fact abroad that the article under this mark is a really high quality article? Unless there is aggressive publicity abroad on that particular point, I fail to see why an industrialist should go out of his way to market an article with the mark on it unless he knows that he will get preference by the buyers in the foreign or export market. I do not see any reference to any arrangement of that kind and my own point of view—knowing to some extent, I suppose, the tremendous high-pressure advertising abroad in America, Great Britain and other countries—is that unless the fact that the really high quality article is the one under the standard mark is publicised and propagandised to a very great extent I cannot see the manufacturer looking for the protection of that mark.

One other point in relation to the protection of the research council's imprimatur that the article is of the highest quality. If a person applies for the standard mark what is the machinery whereby he obtains the mark? If he violates the standards laid down under the mark, has the council any redress if he sends out a particular commodity under the mark? Does the council preserve its own reliability in the home and foreign market? Does it provide for an inspection of industries? If, say, there is an incident, as has recently occurred, where a particular commodity is believed to be infected or polluted in some way or other —it has not been proved to anybody's satisfaction—is there any redress internationally by the council by which it could re-establish its name in the minds of foreigners? That may be an insuperable problem. At the same time, I think that incidents such as the recent regrettable one, whatever may be the truth about it, could do tremendous damage to the trade mark. Has the council any way of protecting itself?

It seems to me that it would be a very big and difficult problem to see that every product to which it gives its trade mark maintained the same high standard indefinitely. I may be trespassing on the 1946 Act but I will not pursue that point. At the same time, for the good name of the country, the council, the energy and initiative of producers and industrialists who insist on going to the trouble of getting the standard mark it is very important that they should feel that everybody else in the same category as themselves covered by the trade mark would maintain the same high standard of quality.

Is there any penalty to be imposed on anybody who uses the standard mark without authority? Is there any penalty in regard to a person who has the right to use the standard mark but falls below the standard mark in the article to be disposed of? Has the council any intention of pursuing the sale of these goods and examining them from time to time or does it merely issue the mark and then forget about it?

I am particularly interested in another question. I wonder whether this cuts across in any way at all the standard specifications for food, drink and patent medicines? Is this going to be isolated from the standards to be laid down under the 1947 Health Act or does the Minister intend in relation to things such as tinned foods, patent medicines, jams, sauces and other commodities the council to have any functions in relation to that aspect of exports generally? Will they initiate investigations or will they be associated with the Department of Health in the establishment of food and drink standards generally under the 1947 Health Act?

There is no doubt that the provision is a very welcome one. The Bill is very welcome, indeed. The only thing is that it seems to me to be very dependent on the collaboration of the public at home. It is very dependent on their enlightenment in a very extensive way. Very few people have any knowledge of the activity of this council at the moment. The Minister has explained that but I do not see how they can browse along in their quiet way. They were justified for so doing up to the present. I do not see any provision for wide publicisation of the activities of the Research Standards Council.

The other point concerns publicity amongst the manufacturers. I do not think that matters so much because, if the public is aware of the possibility of a high standard, the manufacturers will have to act accordingly. I think publicity abroad is very necessary if we expect manufacturers to take on the mark and go into the export market in any extensive way.

Finally, there is a question I would like to ask the Minister. Section 2 (1) of the Bill states:

"The institute shall formulate specifications for such commodities, processes and practices as the Minister may from time to time request."

Does the word "specifications" cover the question of efficiency of the particular article or the content of the article? Is efficiency covered in any way? Will they have the right to go into a factory and talk to manufacturers about improved methods of production?

I have a good many doubts—not the usual type of doubts —about this Bill. I believe in the necessity for the institute. When I cross-questioned the Tánaiste during the course of his address I did so from the point of view of trying to elicit from him whether the ceiling he proposes in this Bill is a permissive ceiling as distinct from a final decision. If the attitude is to be that this institute is to submit estimates of the cost of the work it intends to do, I feel the Minister would be justified in fixing a far higher ceiling than he proposes. If this institute gets under way properly and carries out its functions, I can quite envisage that the ceiling we fix now will become outmoded. I would rather see the Minister taking a permissive power under which he could grant to them such moneys as they might require to carry on their work properly as distinct from putting a ceiling on it.

Does the Minister think if the situation is to develop and this grant of £130,000 is acceded to by America that the ultimately enhanced and developed institute will be able to run from the point of view of its administration and of its work on the figure he now proposes? I do not think they could and I do not believe the Minister thinks they could. It is a bad policy in legislation of this nature, where you are trying to encourage and enhance something that is absolutely necessary to the improvement of industry, that we should take powers that might involve making further amendments to Acts.

Having read with a good deal of care the Minister's recent line of argument on industry, on exports and on the improvement of the standards within industry, I wonder whether the Minister has not been unwise in the limitations of this amending Bill. The Minister no doubt contemplates this research institute as a fair testing ground for the technical improvement and the improvement of the quality of articles produced by Irish manufacturers. Day after day the Minister speaks at chamber of commerce after chamber of commerce expounding the necessity for the development and efficiency of industry. He emphasises the question of technical assistance. There is no doubt about this institute itself if developed properly can be of immense technical value to industry. But why does the Minister not consider approaching the problem in what I believe to be the right way, making available to the institute funds for its disposal where it feels that some Grant-in-Aid for technical assistance to an industry would improve the standards and efficiency of that industry?

We know perfectly well that the ultimate sale of our goods is dependent on the quality of cloth or the quality of the basic substance that is used, added to the cost of production, and the cost of production is inevitably bound up with efficiency. If the Minister can find through this institute a way of ensuring that worthwhile manufacturers here, who are hampered by limitation of capital, restriction of credit, or anything else, will be in a position with the assistance of highly skilled technical advice to improve the quality and production and output of their manufacturing concern, he should instead of talking about the problem, make a proper gesture to those people by enabling an institute such as this to place at their disposal, by way of Grant-in-Aid or otherwise, the money to effect this improvement.

The Minister preaches the doctrine— and I think the right doctrine—that it is only on quality that we will sell in an export market. If articles are to compete in an export market they must inevitably be articles efficiently produced because the export price of that commodity will depend on the cost of production. The Minister is well aware, and has repeatedly said so in public, that it is the quality of that article plus its reasonable price that will edge it into any export market.

While not quarrelling with the Minister on the issue of this amending Bill, I wonder if the mind that is approach-it is not too narrow in its vision and if the scope of this amending Bill has not been cut down too fine. We are to have within the course of the next couple of years these huge new expensive laboratories in Glasnevin and if we are to have the technical staff with the ability to which we would aspire, does it not immediately strike anybody thinking rationally in this House that most of the £35,000, which is the ceiling proposed by the Minister, would be eaten up in emoluments, and justifiable emoluments, to those people before any work of a research nature is done at all?

I am all against this kind of piecemeal legislation that has an embryo idea, in connection with which the legislation keeps changing as the embryo grows into something more substantial. I am possibly different from most people in public life in this, that I would like to see a person aim at something big from the start and attain it rather than try to kill something by smallness of outlook or mediocrity of attempt. When I pass a criticism on the Minister in relation to this amending Bill I do so in the spirit of one who thinks that advances of this type should be of the broadest possible conception.

This amending Bill should have devised a more effective means of educating the public into the significance of the standard mark. As sure as the public are educated into the significance of the standard mark, they themselves will force the manufacturer into the realisation of the necessity for putting his goods within the range and quality that the standard mark would cover. We are too well aware of inferior goods flooding the market. Low quality Irish goods appear on the market from time to time and we know of some salubriously named exports that were sent out of this country from places that nobody could describe as a factory. That is the inevitable consequence of the policy of get rich quick merchants who can exploit a situation that may arise from a shortage or from immediate post-war conditions. However I take it that the Minister's design is that this institute should ultimately be a place to which all people anxious to produce goods of quality for home consumption or for export would go to look for the imprimatur of our standards institute. That imprimatur itself would by virtue of its requirements, establish all Irish goods whether on the home market or the foreign market to be of a really worth while standard by virtue of the fact that they were carrying the imprimatur of the standard mark no matter what its relative number might be. If that is to be done, I think we will ultimately have to arrive at the stage where there will have to be some kind of insistence, whether by virtue of a clamour from the public or by virtue of an insistence by way of regulation, that goods will have to attain, within a reasonable period, anyway, the quality that will make them worthy of a mark or else will, of necessity, have to fail.

There is no point in having a high standard set for goods and there is no point in having a registration mark fixing a standard of quality if diverse tricks and methods of connotation of goods will still let inferior goods out into the world market carrying the tag of Ireland with them. We have known in the past how effectively, whether by the stencilling of multiple shamrocks or by the violent quality of the greenness of labels, people have succeeded in sending, as I might describe them, salubrious types of exports throughout Great Britain and parts of Europe carrying the torch of Ireland but hardly the standard of quality that Ireland might like to boast of.

I take it that the Minister is sincere in his effort to ensure that Irish industry, in the building up of which he himself has played a considerable part, shall reach a standard worthy of the nation as a whole. If that is to be done, I am saying now to the Minister in all seriousness that he is tying his hands too much in this amending measure. If the Minister is right in his concept for the basis of this amending measure then I contend, quite seriously, that his concept is too niggardly and that it would be better for him in the spirit this House receives such a measure to give himself a permissive ceiling that would give him more scope for work and give the institute itself more scope for rapid development.

It is understandable that in the immediate past, with its multiple difficulties and its initial difficulties, the institute had not the capacity to expand that it now has. The time has come when the institute and the Minister, under whose aegis they work, will have to ensure that there is more and more recourse to this institute by various people, by all industrialists, and that more and more information will be available on demand to the public from this institute as to the nature and type of work it is doing and, in particular, it should be available to people who are making inquiries about various types of goods. Information should be available to people who may be inquiring from abroad for Irish goods. Information should be available to them as to what standard has been set by this institute and what Irish manufacturers are producing goods to that standard. If that is to be done, a good deal of money will be necessary for publicity and a good deal of money will be necessary for a proper recording department within the institute and for the proper availability of records for inspection at the institute. Whether or not it is contemplated to make available to the public at a small fee an examination of the register in relation to marks, and the people who are registered under that mark—even if that is contemplated—I say to the Minister, that, initially, his concept with regard to the spreading of the wings of this institute out into the activities that it can properly pursue will involve something more than the commitment envisaged by himself. Rather than have us in the situation that we will have to come back next year or some time in the future to argue on this issue again, I should like to see the Minister exercise a more generous approach to what work can be done.

I believe, and I believe the Minister believes, that this institute is capable of very considerable expansion and, at each particular point of expansion, it will have a considerable increase in personnel; it will have a considerable increase in technical personnel as well as in administrative personnel. Even though the 1946 Act makes adequate provision under which certain capital contingencies can be met, I think it would have been better if the Minister had left out a ceiling in the Bill altogether and had said that such money as their estimates demand will be available.

I know quite a number of the personnel of the council of this institute and I know quite a number of the technicians attached to this institute. I feel it is really in its infancy and that there is in that particular institute a wealth of enthusiasm and anxiety to get to grips with the job that this amending measure, designed to help, might ultimately stultify. I want the Minister to contemplate—and I have raised it with him by way of correspondence before—the question of the help that can be given to industry, particularly on the question of efficiency. I want the Minister to consider whether it would not be possible to use this institute to enable worth while first-class Irish industries, with a little bit of technical assistance and a little bit of expert advice, to cut costs considerably, to produce an improved article in greater quantity per working hour. I want the Minister to consider whether it would not be a wise thing to contemplate that an institute such as this might be an authority to which they could apply for certain Grants-in-Aid to enable them attain to the standard which the institute itself contemplates and which we all, no matter what our political beliefs may be, want to see arrive.

We want to see Irish goods of range and quality from all the various industries attain to the mark that an Irish Institute of Research and Standards fixes. We want to see all goods in this country reach the quality that will prove them a worth while article on the home market and an article worthy of our pride in whatever export market they can capture. I think the Minister can do that if he will bear with, possibly, my more youthful outlook and take the view that it would be better —rather than fixing a ceiling of £35,000 and necessarily involving all kinds of expense subsequently by way of various amending legislation that may come— if he has to fix a ceiling at all, to make it infinitely higher or, if not, allow a general permissive power that money can be voted under this Act at the discretion of the Minister to enable the institute to do its full work and to ensure that it will not be stopped from doing it for lack of money.

I feel like having a little recreation in industrial research standards instead of discussing another Bill. Deputy Collins referred to what he describes as his youthful outlook. I listened very carefully to what he said but did not perceive the youthful outlook that he thinks he has.

I agree with the Minister and with other Deputies that this is an important matter that is worthy of serious consideration. It is worthy of more serious consideration than it is receiving this evening. There are very big problems involved. I gathered from the Minister and other speakers that their outlook is to have a high standard of quality for internal consumption and a very high standard for export. I wonder if that is the proper outlook at the moment. For many years, all over the world there has been considerable discussion on the question of standards. Pre-1939 and perhaps subsequent to the war certain nations that did well in the manufacturing and export business produced cheap articles with a limited life rather than high-standard articles that might be expected to last a very long time. That is a problem that we might consider from our point of view. Will we concentrate on what I might term luxury production because, with world ideas as they are, it is luxury production to produce articles of exceptionally high standard designed to last a very long period?

I feel that the other idea of producing a great quantity of cheap articles that may not have such a long life is perhaps better policy. It is a matter that might be seriously considered.

It seems clear to me that it is vitally essential that we should have an export market. How will we get that export market in industrial goods if we insist on a very high standard that makes it impossible for those articles to meet competition abroad? In so far as we can get into a foreign market, we get into a market in which we can only appeal to a limited number of people, people of considerable property and money.

The measure introduced by the Minister in 1946 and this amending Bill have for their objective the production of a very high standard of goods that would have a long life, which, in present world conditions, cannot be produced at a price that will appeal to the ordinary person in Britain or elsewhere. As the Minister and the House know, the whole tendency in Europe at the moment is to liberalise trade, in other words, to remove tariff and other barriers that prevent goods of one country going into another. If we follow in that line, as I think we will be forced to do—and I think we are keeping pace with it and are perhaps a little forward of some nations—we will have the competition in this country of goods that are cheap, that have a limited life, that are useful and that can be dumped when their period of usefulness ends, and replaced by something new.

That is a problem we must discuss and consider. We must watch what is happening in the world and try, by means of State assistance, State aid, State subvention and active State participation to manufacture goods that will be as good as those produced in other countries for the particular market and that will, if possible, be sold in foreign markets at a price somewhat cheaper than the price of the goods of our competitors. That is the problem which we must face.

Where we have a particular commodity that is peculiarly Irish and recognised to be Irish, where we have a particular pride in that commodity, it is right that it should be protected by the very highest standards but where it is a matter of other things that are expendable, where the period of usefulness may be somewhat longer than what might be termed a short period, a year or two years or three years, where we produce these expendable articles, we have not got the same problems in regard to trade protection or in regard to high standards.

The question of food is in a completely different category. Any food that we produce for consumption here or elsewhere, must be of the very highest quality. Whether it is food that is exported on the hoof or in tins, cans, cellophane or anything else, it must be of the highest standard. The very fact that it is known to be Irish will be an indication that it is of the highest standard.

I agree that it is necessary to have laboratory and scientific research. Whatever steps are necessary must be taken to ensure that. Deputy Cosgrave mentioned assistance to individual firms for scientific and industrial research. I have often thought that we should have more centralised laboratory and scientific research. Instead of providing money, as has been suggested here, for particular firms to carry out this research themselves, the research could be carried out by one of the central institutions of the State, by the allocation of staff temporarily to a particular firm or group of firms. The idea of trying to increase industrial production has for its object the provision of employment under good conditions for our own people. On studying this question, we may discover that, under the system we have at the moment, the individual firms are unable, as Deputy Cosgrave said, because of taxation, rates and other expenses to produce goods at a proper price. To assist industry of that kind, it may be necessary to establish, under the control of the Minister, other industries that will assist those which are unable to face the difficulties of competition.

No matter what one may say about the advantages of private enterprise as such, where it is a matter of maintaining our own population under good standards it may be necessary to have the incentive I mention, of State industries which will work in cooperation with the industries controlled by private enterprise and which, because of State assistance, will be able to improve the machinery and processes of production. The matters which arise out of consideration of this Bill are matters of the highest importance.

Notice taken that 20 Deputies were not present; House counted and, 20 Deputies being present,

It will be noted that, even with a quorum present, there are very substantial gaps in the House. One of the surprising things is that on this very problem plenty of advice will be directed towards the Minister, by Deputies who ought to be here, from places where they are unable to achieve anything by their oratory.

The Deputy ought to be satisfied that he has someone to listen to him now.

Is it not apparent to the Deputy that there are substantial gaps in the House?

There will be more.

Are they not leaving it to you?

I am not discussing the notable absentees on a matter of this kind.

It is quality that counts, not quantity.

As I was saying when Deputy Collins called for a House, it is a subject of serious importance, that deserves more consideration than is being given to it this evening. Those dealing with the development of industry must be concerned about the home market as well as the foreign or export market. One of our great difficulties has been that our population has been declining for over a century. I always believe that if a country is to have a substantial industrial production, if a country is to have prosperity, it must have an increasing population rather than a decreasing one. I think, in regard to that matter, that what I mentioned earlier of a reconsideration of the problem of production, we should go in for the large-scale production of cheaper articles which in itself would provide more industrial employment at good incomes and good wages. We ought seriously to consider the two matters as of vital importance in connection with this whole problem.

The Minister mentioned the small number of people who have applied for the standard mark. I feel that in itself is not a matter that we need be too worried about for the reasons which I have already stated. I think that our national standard mark should be limited entirely to goods that are peculiarly Irish goods that we are proud of and that we require to maintain at the very highest possible standard. Certainly, in so far as there can be a standard mark for food, I think that ought to be available. I agree with Deputy Dr. Browne and with Deputy Cosgrave that we should have more propaganda not only here but elsewhere as to the meaning and effect of our standard mark, and of what it involves in regard to quality.

I will conclude on an observation which was made in a different way by Deputy Dr. Browne. He referred to the problem that is created by an incident, such as the recent one in Great Britain, where very considerable damage could be done to an Irish product as a result of rumour. That could always happen, and the firm concerned, or any firm that may be similarly concerned, may be struck a very grievous blow. I think that in those circumstances there ought to be available for that particular industry the resources of the State to enable it to recapture its position in the world market. We have such a big problem in obtaining a market abroad that we have to insist, when we get that market abroad, on maintaining it when we know that the goods, and particularly the foods, that we export are of the highest quality, and that there is in regard to those foods that we export, no defect and nothing that could in any way lower our standards. We should ourselves consider it of vital importance, in connection with an incident of this kind, that the resources of the State should be available to assist that particular product or that particular industry to overcome the temporary damage that has been done to it by the incident. I, like every other Deputy, welcome the Bill. It has been explained by the Minister in a way that makes it very simple for Deputies to understand it.

Mr. A. Byrne

I, too, welcome the Bill. I would remind the House that two or three months ago many Deputies raised the question of the Irish whiskey distilling industry. I should be glad to know from the Minister if the operation of this Bill will extend to that industry so as to ensure that no goods will go out of this country in bottles with heavy green labels on them if the stuff is not up to standard. People who came from the Continent recently told me that they saw there stuff that was supposed to be Irish whiskey. It was on the shelves, heavily labelled with green labels, but when taken down it had no likeness whatever to the genuine good Irish whiskey we have here. I am anxious to know from the Minister if, under this measure, power will be taken to ask for samples of such goods that may be going out with an Irish badge on them. These could do harm to the genuine article which we produce here. When it goes abroad it creates good trade for this country and its production provides good employment at home. I welcome the measure and earnestly hope that it will be applied in the direction of seeing that no goods will go out of the country that are not up to standard, no matter who sends them out with labels coloured highly with our own national colours, maybe with a round tower and that kind of thing, to deceive people. I am confident that the Minister will do something in the direction of seeing that our Irish distilling industry is protected.

Major de Valera

I am rather appalled by the suggestion that seems to be contained in the few words spoken by the last speaker, that, in fact, some of our exports are substandard. That is not the reason for. nor is it the case for, this measure, and any such false impression should not be allowed to go abroad. Such goods as we export are of a very high standard. As I am on that subject, Deputy Cowan mentioned a matter which should be seen in its true light. The fact is that the Irish products which have been examined intact have been found to be all right so far. The fact is that the Irish product which was under suspicion had already been opened and tampered with before it came for analysis at all. Every tin that was intact and subsequently analysed was found to be of the required high standard. That is as I understand the story. Anyone who has the slightest acquaintance with the processes of evidence will realise that no case whatever could be made when the tin had already been opened for a long time and had been tampered with, and that it should not be the cause of such a scare. I do not think that these matters are relevant to this Bill at all.

I think that we should look at the statement of the Minister in introducing the Bill. It is here more for the purpose of getting uniformity and of giving a guarantee. The particular value of this Bill is that it gives a guarantee and protection to the manufacturer and to the product. There is that great point in it, that there is for any commodity a standard specification to which the producer voluntarily conforms. It is voluntary. The producer can elect to do it or not, but once he elects he brings himself within the sanctions. If he does so, he has then the great advantage that there is a scheme there to ensure that that standard is maintained, and he is not to rely solely on such evidence as he himself may produce as to the high quality of the goods. There is a guarantee, over and above himself and of his productive unit, of the quality of these goods.

If this can be organised, and I think it can be, this Bill will be a great advantage to manufacturers, and it will also be an incentive to people who are working in producing commodities, in that they have to live up to specification, and gradually the whole measure will make for a higher standard, an improving standard, of productive methods and craftsmanship. That is why I rather deplore the suggestions which have been made and the fact that the discussion seemed to be getting slightly out of focus. I join with others in saying that this is a step forward and that the operations of this standards wing of the research and standards bureau will be useful. I wonder do Deputies realise that this body set up in 1946 is steadily growing and is quietly organising itself to play a real part and make a real contribution to our requirements in that field for which, until the passing of the 1946 Act, we had no provision?

I think it is because we are so aware that we are unanimous about it.

Major de Valera

It is no harm, when the subject does come before the House, to say that there has been considerable work done on standards and that the signs are there that there will be considerable work done—I am not aware of the details—on the research aspect as well.

The unfortunate feature of the Minister's statement was his indication that, on the standards aspect, work had not been done to the extent he had hoped.

Major de Valera

Perhaps not, but nevertheless I would go so far as to say that some progress has been made in that direction and this Bill will enable it to go much further. I know that the Minister would wish to have much more—any progressive Minister would—but they have been organising and they have in that period developed buildings and prepared to go into action. This is an enabling piece of legislation which will enable them to do so and there should be no question about letting the Bill have a speedy passage.

There has not been any such suggestion.

Major de Valera

I know.

Regarding the amount which may be provided under the Bill for the work of the Institute of Research and Standards, I did not endeavour to leave the Dáil under the impression that the Committee on Industrial Research would not prefer to have a larger sum. Anybody responsible for the activities of an organisation of that kind and anxious to see them grow would naturally fix a fairly high target when determining the amount that could usefully and reasonably be spent. The need for increased subvention to the institute was obvious. The amount of the increase was discussed with the committee of the institute and eventually this figure of £35,000 was arrived at. The Industrial Research Committee will regard it as a considerable improvement on the present position and will be able to do a great deal with it. The main effect of the amendment of the legislation in the immediate future is that the committee will be able to go ahead with its plans for extension, knowing that the finance will be available to them. Up to the present, they have not been limited by actual lack of funds. As I said, they had accumulated a reserve fund, out of the existing grants, of £27,000. They were unable to spend that fund upon a long-term programme because they could not enter into the commitments which would be involved in such a programme, without having the limits fixed in the previous Act raised as is proposed in the Bill. If and when the new laboratories to be provided out of the American Grant Counterpart Fund are constructed, the limit may have to be looked at again, because there is not much point in having new laboratories equipped with apparatus for research without having adequate staff to ensure their full utilisation.

Deputy Cosgrave mentioned the possibility of grants being given to private firms for the undertaking of specific researches. I do not think that is the best method of extending the scope of the institute's activities. I have suggested to the institute that they should endeavour to make arrangements with private firms having research laboratories or research institutes in other countries for the undertaking, on behalf of the institute, of researches which the institute is not at present equipped to do. Up to the present, the institute has had, on occasion, to tell industrial firms which wanted particular investigations carried out that they could not do them because they had not got the equipment for the purpose. I think they could make an arrangement under which they would never have to give that reply and under which they could accept a contract to carry out an investigation, even though they had to farm out the investigation to some other body acting as their agent. I understand the Committee on Industrial Research are considering the practicability of an arrangement of that kind.

It should be appreciated, however, that a very large part of the institute's utility is the technical library which they have in Glasnevin House and the sources of information which are open to them from their contacts with research bodies in other countries, and many queries which industrial firms might wish to have answered could perhaps be answered in a very short time by reference to the material in the library or by addressing an inquiry to some body somewhere in the world which has already carried out an investigation of that subject. It is only where a specific problem of our own requires experimentation that the institute carries out or needs to carry out research activity of its own.

Certain occasions arose which will illustrate my point. When the question of the utilisation of concrete pipes for land drainage purposes was causing difficulty, the institute carried out an investigation on the type of soils in which concrete pipes might be used and those in which clay pipes would have to be used, and, on the basis of these inquiries, the use of concrete or clay pipes for land drainage purposes is determined. A group of Irish textile manufacturers arranged for the institute to carry out experimentation into a better method of bleaching textile materials which led to improved processes in Irish factories. I have already mentioned the machine which was publicised in the evening paper for the cleaning of carrageen moss. In connection with the new industry of manufacturing seaweed meal, it was necessary to determine the reproduction rate of the weed so that farming processes would not destroy the future possibilities of the industry, and the institute carried out an investigation which now determines the rate at which the seaweed is gathered in the areas where the industry is operating.

The institute is, of course, not limited to the maximum of £35,000 fixed in the Bill for research work of that kind. Where special investigations are necessary, investigations which involve the institute in the purchase of equipment for the purposes of the investigation or the recruitment of staff, special grants can be given under the provisions of the original Act. Deputy Collins suggested that there should be no limit in the Bill, but it is our practice when enacting legislation of this kind, to put financial limits into these measures. There is possibly even a constitutional reason for it. I do not want it to be assumed that in fixing a limit of £35,000 now we are determining that that is the maximum extent to which the work of the institute can ever expand in the future.

I should perhaps make it clear also that the purpose of the institute so far as industry is concerned is to carry out scientific research on behalf of industry. It is not to undertake technical assistance projects as that term is ordinarily understood. There is a technical assistance Vote. There is money available under which aid can be given to groups of firms manufacturing goods to improve the efficiency of their operations, but improvement of the efficiency of the operations of any industry need not involve any scientific investigation at all. It could be a matter of the placing of machinery, the utilisation of labour, the efficiency of the tools employed and matters of that kind. The work of the Institute of Industrial Research and Standards so far as that aspect of industrial improvement is concerned is confined to carrying out scientific investigations, and it does those investigations either at the request of the Minister for Industry and Commerce if he wants some particular possibility explored or on behalf of individual firms or groups of firms who have run into scientific difficulties.

I want to deal with the question of the standard specification and the standard mark. There is, I think, some misunderstanding about the function of the standard specification. A standard specification is designed to enable people to protect themselves. It does not set up a minimum standard of quality enforceable in any way. Nobody has to produce goods to the standard specification. It does not affect the business of exports at all. If there was a desire to prevent the export of goods below a predetermined standard special legislation for that purpose would have to be enacted. It cannot be done on this legislation.

Deputy Dr. Noel Browne inquired about standards for medicines, foods and drink in relation to which the Minister for Health or the Minister for Agriculture has power to fix minimum standards and enforce those minimum standards to the extent of prosecuting anybody who sells goods below those standards or preventing them from engaging in their manufacture at all. When I resumed office as Minister for Industry and Commerce there was a rather humorous race proceeding between, I think, the Department of Health and the Institute of Industrial Research and Standards as to which would get out first with a standard specification for ice cream. I got the Institute for Industrial Research and Standards out of that race, because the purpose of the specification to be produced by the Department of Health was to ensure that nobody would produce ice cream below their standard whereas the purpose of the standard specification to be produced by the institute would be merely to set up standards to which people could conform if they wished to and by conforming to which they could get increased trade if the public understood the significance of the standard.

I have said that the purpose of the standard specification is to help people to help themselves. If Deputies will look over the list of standard specifications already made they will find that the great majority relate to industrial materials—to cement, to roofing tiles or roofing slates, to a variety of different kinds of paints, to electric plugs and sockets, to building blocks, plaster board, cast-iron goods and so forth. All these standard specifications are designed to facilitate people in trade. If I am entering into a contract with somebody to build a house for me or to supply goods for which there is a standard specification I can put in that contract an obligation upon the other party to supply goods to the standard specification, and that releases me from the difficulty of determining for myself the standard of quality to which I want the goods to conform.

Up to the present only a comparatively small number of standard specifications has been made for consumer goods, the kind of goods you can purchase in a shop. They have been made for woollen blankets, cotton sheets, farmers' leather boots and things of that kind. When Deputy Dr. Browne suggests that we should advertise in order to inform the public of the importance of the standard mark as a protection to them I think the answer is that we have not yet got enough standard specifications for consumer goods of ordinary public interest to justify a campaign of that kind. I have been pressing upon manufacturers who are producing goods of that kind to standard specification and using the mark to advertise that they are using the mark on their goods, and a number of them have done so. They are beginning to find that it is a selling point for their products to let it be known to the public that they have been licensed to attach the standard mark to the particular product they are producing. The purpose of the standard mark however, as I have said, is to enable the public to protect themselves, not to force manufacturers to produce goods of any particular quality or much less to force up the general level of quality of goods produced. Eventually it should have that result, but ordinarily the aim of a standard specification is to secure that the goods are of good quality having regard to their character. We have a standard specification for woollen blankets. There is no reason why we should not have one for cotton blankets and another for a mixture blanket, of a mixture of a cotton and wool. Nobody can describe a cotton blanket as a woollen blanket or a mixture blanket as a woollen blanket. But so long as the article is what it is described to be and is produced in accordance with the conditions laid down in the standard specification then the public will know what they are getting.

We made standard specifications for certain types of doors—flush doors and panel doors; and now I understand they are producing a standard specification for a cheaper type of door, what is called a straw-packed door. The aim is not to ensure that only the dearest door, the most expensive type of door, will be used, but that anybody buying a door will know if the standard mark is on it, that it conforms with the specification for that kind of door; and, of course, the aim of the committee preparing these specifications is to ensure that a reasonably good standard of quality is insisted upon on all occasions.

It will be necessary to build up public realisation of the importance of the standard mark over a period of time. I am hoping to start that first of all by utilising the enormous buying power of Government Departments and State-sponsored bodies. When we came to consider the matter in consultation with the Department of Local Government and other Government Departments that have control over the purchase of a large variety of goods we came up against certain practical difficulties in making it a condition that only goods bearing the standard mark should be supplied. Therefore, for this experimental period we arranged that those Departments would require those submitting tenders for the supply of those goods to state whether the goods they would supply would or would not bear the standard mark. We hope from that to get information which will enable us to extend the process of securing the use of the standard mark by manufacturers in the future. The same applies to purchases by State-sponsored bodies. With them that process has not been started, and there may be some difficulty, but we hope to get their co-operation in the matter.

So far as manufacturers are concerned it is now standard practice in the Department of Industry and Commerce if any manufacturer or group of manufacturers comes in looking for a tariff alteration or some other concession or Government help in any form to ask them if there is a standard specification of the goods they produce and if they are producing goods to that specification and using the mark to show it. It has been made clear to them that a decision on whatever application they make will be very greatly influenced by the answer given to that question. If the manufacturers are producing goods to the standard specification, provided there is a standard specification for these goods, then they should take the further step of using the standard mark in relation to it. It is quite true that by applying for a licence to use a standard mark and attaching that mark to the goods they are incurring legal liabilities because, if they use the mark in connection with goods which are not of standard specified quality, they are liable to prosecution and, in certain circumstances, to imprisonment. It is the knowledge that these penalties attach to the use of the standard mark that gives the mark its value because it helps the public to understand that no manufacturer will take the risk of advertising that his goods bear a standard mark unless he is quite certain the quality is up to standard specification quality because of the severity of the penalties prescribed in the Act.

There may be necessity for taking power at some stage to protect the quality of goods going into the export trade. I had in fact contemplated some years ago enacting legislation for that purpose. Just at the end of the war, when trade was dead anyway, I thought it was a good time to get that legislation into operation so that the growth of post-war trade would take place within the limits fixed by that new legislation. That proved to be extraordinarily difficult and the number of exceptions that would have to be made rendered it of very doubtful value. Points arose in connection with the discussion we had here some time ago: a manufacturer of pottery produces in the process of turning out the pottery a number of slightly defective articles which are called "seconds"— a cup with the pattern crooked, a handle not quite in the right place— and the one aim of the manufacturer of that pottery is to get all the seconds disposed of outside his normal market, because, within that market, they can damage his normal trade. That is why most of the Irish pottery seconds are sent to England and some of the English pottery seconds come in here.

In any event it was only in a limited range of products that it seemed to me the necessity for restrictions might arise. I felt in the long run that it was better to try to get the result rather by a process of certifying the quality of the exports than by prohibiting exports of inferior quality. At that time we were considering, in relation to the whiskey to which Deputy Byrne referred, the possibility of affixing some Government seal on the bottle certifying the length of time it had been kept in bond here under Government supervision and, consequently, the quality, although I suppose individual tastes differ and individual judgments on the quality of any particular bottle of whiskey would be liable to differ also.

However, this Bill is not for that purpose. I want to make that clear. The standard specifications under this Bill are designed to be operated by any manufacturer who wants to give a guarantee as to the quality of his products; he can adopt the standard specification and apply for a licence to attach the standard mark to them. Anybody who wants to protect himself in business can avail of the standard specification for that purpose. In the course of time I hope to get here, as they have got in other countries, a widespread public acceptance of the significance of the standard mark so that in the ordinary course of trade nobody will be able to sell a product without having that particular mark attached to it.

I was very much impressed when drafting the original Act by a conversation I had with the Director of Industrial Research and Standards in New Zealand. There they have been working on this problem for a long time and they have got, it seemed to me, a very considerable social advantage from the work they have done, the public understanding of the significance of the work and the public's co-operation in the work. It is my hope that in the course of time we will be able to do that here. I admit we have been turning out standard specifications at too slow a rate. The work of our institute does not compare at all with the work of corresponding institutes in other countries. That is partly due to the fact that here they were starting in on what was a new field of activity and partly to the fact that their resources were limited. Now they are getting into their stride and the process of getting consultations and agreements in the preparation of standards has become more or less formalised. Now that they are getting more money also, I hope we will be able to produce these specifications at a much greater rate. The institute think that they can turn them out at twice the present rate. Even that I regard as merely the minimum target.

As I mentioned, there are no less than 60 commodities in respect of which I have formally requested the institute to prepare standard specifications upon which they have not been able to start work. They are working on about 20 additional commodities at the present time. The institute have not yet been able to do as much in the way of testing the quality of commodities as I would like. I am hoping as a result of the increased resources available now that they will be able to develop their organisation so as to do much more work in the testing of the quality of goods on sale than has been possible up to the present.

I think there is considerable public value in the work done by certain organisations in America which just take commodities used in ordinary trade and on sale in the shops in the ordinary way, test these and publish an analysis. It does nothing more than that and periodically it lets the people know exactly what they are paying their money for; in some cases they have been able to expose what were palpable frauds upon the public. Testing of that kind is permissible under the Act and the institute is protected against any legal consequences of publishing analyses detrimental to some commercial interests, and is one part of the institute's work. I hope they will be able to expand in that field. It will be necessary for them to have that apparatus for testing the quality of goods in full operation when the number of standard specifications increases and when the use of the standard mark extends because there is an obligation on the institute to ensure that in every case where a standard mark is used the quality of goods to which the mark is attached is always and consistently in conformity with the standard specification.

I do not think there is any other point to which I need refer at this stage. I would like to pay a tribute to the council of the institute. A number of people who are very prominent in many walks of life and who are obviously very busy men, have agreed to act upon the council of the institute and they give through that council useful advice to the executive committees and useful guidance in the development of the institute's activities. Originally I had contemplated that the council of the institute would, at its annual meeting, become something in the nature of a scientific convention at which the work of the institute would be discussed at a very high level and at which people prominent in academic or industrial circles would read papers directing public attention to investigations that might usefully be undertaken, or reporting the general condition of scientific inquiry in any particular field. Up to the present these council meetings have been held and completed in a single day. I appreciate that most of these people would find it difficult to give more time to the annual meeting of the council, but I hope in time that my original idea will also be fulfilled and that the institute, through its council, will become a general centre of scientific activity which will not be confined to the laboratories of the institute itself. I know that many members of the council and the officers of the institute share that hope with me.

Now that the increased funds are available to the institute I hope that they will be able to move in that direction. Up to the present, they have not spent very much money on the annual meeting of the council but they will be able to spend a little more in future. I hope they will want to spend it if it makes the council develop in the way I have suggested.

Question put and agreed to.

When will the next stage be taken?

Next Wednesday.

You can have the remaining stages now if you want them.

Is there any objection?

No objection, if the Minister does not want to make any amendment.

No, there is not very much in it.

Agreed to take the remaining stages.