It is refreshing to find general agreement on both sides of the House in relation to such an important matter as the development of industry in this country both in order to meet the requirements of the home market and for export. I could find myself in agreement with a great deal of what Deputy Lemass has said.
It would have been better, however, if he had not introduced and given publicity here to what he said was the belief, for instance, which some people had that, other things being equal, as between the Irish firm and the non-Irish firm, in some cases the non-Irish firm was getting the preference. I do not think Deputy Lemass himself believes that. I do not think that that can be established satisfactorily by anybody outside. I suggest that a statement like that should not be made, particularly by a Deputy of the standing and experience of Deputy Lemass, with his particularly intimate knowledge of the matter that we are now discussing, unless he were satisfied that there was conclusive evidence.
Deputy Lemass said that there is apprehension among certain people outside regarding statements which the Minister has made with a view to attracting outside firms in here to produce goods that are not produced here at all, or that are not produced here in sufficient quantity, or to produce entirely, or almost entirely, for export. The Deputy knows, probably better than anybody else either outside or inside this House, that if there is to be any change whatever in the position which has obtained for the last 30 years there will be apprehension among certain people. Nobody knows that better than the Deputy. I do not think there will be any apprehension amongst the majority of Irish industrialists, among those who have made an effort to make themselves efficient and to produce as good an article as can be produced within the circumstances obtaining here.
Some of the fears which were expressed arose, I am quite satisfied, from a complete misunderstanding of what the Minister was doing and was trying to do. Some of the feelings of apprehension were expressed by people who have reason, as I say, to be apprehension of any change that would be made.
It is better that we should speak quite plainly on this matter. There is common agreement on both sides of the House that Irish industrialists should get, not merely preference, but whatever measure of protection is required to put them on at least an equal footing, taking everything into consideration, with anybody who may come in from outside. I want to emphasise "at least an equal footing". After 30 odd years, I think we and the people outside are entitled to say that, whilst giving the fullest protection against unfair competition, there must be some recognition of the fact that merely because it is an Irish firm it will not become a 100 per cent. monopoly, sheltered completely from any form of competition. I venture to say that a good deal of the apprehension—I do not say all of it—has been expressed by people who take the view that this Legislature should protect them against all and any competition. The Deputy and the Minister are quite aware that there are Irish firms who not merely are apprehensive, but who protest vehemently, not only against anybody from outside coming in to compete with them, but if any other Irish firm goes into the same system of processing or production. Deputy Lemass knows that quite well.
The Deputy said that the Minister should publicise the facilities that are available to people in this country, in order to encourage them to come in. I think the Minister is doing quite a good job. I think he has publicised them pretty well. May I say that what might not have been either possible or desirable at any time within the last 30 years, up to a year or two ago, may be both possible and very desirable now in the very changed circumstances which obtain throughout the world and particularly throughout Europe to-day? Deputy Lemass knows quite well that the circumstances have changed completely. Foreign firms who might desire to establish industries in Great Britain and established British factories are finding it almost impossible to expand because the requisite labour is just not available there. On that point, let me say—and I am quite sure Deputy Lemass will be in entire agreement on this—it would be preferable for us to have factories here giving employment to our own workers in Ireland rather than that our workers should go to Great Britain or elsewhere to produce the goods in factories there. There are reasons and there are inducements and there are almost compulsions in the circumstances of the day for outsiders to establish factories here that were not there two or three or four years ago.
When Deputy Lemass says that Irish industrialists must get first preference in any development, whether for the home market or the export market, again he must agree that, with a few notable exceptions, in the last 30 years or 20 years, very few of them have made any real effort to get into any part of the export market and I think it is true to say and that it should be said that there are certain manufacturers in this country who have got very substantial protection, at pretty severe cost to the ordinary citizen over a long number of years. Again I want to emphasise that those that I am now talking about are in the minority but they are there and Deputy Lemass knows they are there and the Minister and most people in this House know they are there. Although they have received very adequate protection at rather substantial cost to the ordinary citizen, they have made no effort to get into the export market and quite a number of them have not made an effort even to meet the requirements of the home market. Nobody knows that better than Deputy Lemass.
There is a situation—I was going to say "arising"—which has arisen, a situation which has been brought more sharply to our notice because of the drive in recent years for an export market, wherein our ability to get into the export market and stay in it depends very largely on the ability of other Irish industries to give us the raw materials of the quality and kind that are essential, if we are to compare not merely in price but in quality, finish, design and so on, with the products of competitors whom we will have to meet when we go into the export market.
It is not an easy problem; it is a very difficult problem; but one is not going to solve it by pretending that it is not there, by making no effort in any way whatever to deal with it or by just shutting one's eyes to it. When we talk about exports and an export market, whether it is into Britain or into America—we may talk about a greater Ireland beyond the seas in America and some people may fool themselves for a time by talking about the sentiment value that is there—we know that we are not going to get into the America market, and certainly are not going to remain there, unless we give them what they want, and not what we think they want, and give it to them at least as good as they can get it from anybody else. There is no member of the House who is not prepared, in my opinion, from my experience of the House, to give to the fullest extent justified any measure or type of protection a genuine Irish manufacturer wants to enable him to get on his feet and to give him a fair chance of meeting competition, no matter whence it may come.
I do not think it is any harm to say this but, whether it is or not, I am going to say it, and to ask the Minister whether he knows it and whether Deputy Lemass can give us any information on it. I understand that American industrialists are establishing industries over practically the whole of Europe, Great Britain and the northern part of this country. Is there any reason that can be given as to why there does not seem to be any anxiety on their part to come in here? If there is any obstacle which we can be told about—or, at least, which the Minister can be told about; I do not necessarily mean the House—I am quite sure that, if it is possible to have that obstacle or obstacles removed, not merely will they be removed, but whatever inducements the Government can properly give to get worth while industries here, and particularly from America, will be given.
There was a very large amount of misrepresentation of one of the first speeches made by the Minister regarding his efforts to induce outside industrialists to come in here. A good deal of that speech was misrepresented, and very much misrepresented across the water in Great Britain, by some people, I am quite certain, through a misunderstanding of what the Minister said, by some people, through ignorance and by many people, out of mischief. The Minister was represented in many of the British newspapers and even by speeches by some of our friends in the northern part of this country, as offering inducements to the Germans to come in here which were not being offered to anybody else. It might be no harm to say here that no inducements were offered to the Germans or anybody else which have not been available and pressed upon British manufacturers and industrialists for many a long day and many a long year. Both the Minister and his immediate predecessor, Deputy Lemass, know that better than I do.
There is what may appear to be a small point, but it is a very important point and I should like the Minister to take a look again to see if he can find some better arrangement in regard to it. I am speaking now about Irish factories and Irish citizens who require the products of other Irish factories and who, if they cannot get them, want permission to import. This system of the person who wants to purchase the article having to get a letter from the Irish manufacturer who is producing, or is supposed to be producing, an efficient article in sufficient quantity, is not working out satisfactorily or justly, and I go further and say that, in some cases, it is being abused. Again, I am quite certain that out of their own experience, Deputy Lemass and the Minister know that that is quite true.
Not merely must the finished article produced for consumption here at home, but, in particular, for export, if we are to talk seriously about export, be good and look good, but the various raw materials which go into the making of that finished article must be equally good, because naturally if they are not, the finished article itself cannot be good. This is a question not merely of the firm, the actual exporter of the finished article. It does not rest very often entirely with that firm, the actual exporter, as to whether they can or cannot get in successfully to an export market. It depends on whether every piece of raw material that goes into the making of the finished article is of itself the best that can be produced.
We have made very great progress in this country industrially. I do not think anybody is satisfied that we have made anything like the progress we should have made and when you count, over a period of over 30 years, the assistance of various kinds which has been given by successive Governments to people who want to start and develop industry here, the results to date are not as good as they should be. I want to say this, from whatever experience I have, that we have to face the fact that it is quality and value, and nothing else, that counts. In order, in the first place, to get the quality in the article, one must have efficiency not merely at the top, but right down to the lowest paid operative in the particular firm. When it comes to the question of putting on the market that finished article, which in quality compares favourably with anything produced elsewhere, the question of price will be determined in very large measure by the executive, managerial and technical skill available, a skill which is being used efficiently for the direction of that particular type of industry, by the type of machinery used, the degree of skill necessary and the relative output of the operatives engaged in the industry. I need not tell anybody here, or outside, that in commerce, business and trade, particularly international trade, there is no room for sentiment; that has always been true of trade, and it is even truer of trade to-day than heretofore. There is the driving of hard bargains and it is quality and price, and nothing else, that count.
We are merely beating the air in talking about building our industrial arm to the point where we cannot merely provide employment for those of our people who cannot get employment on the land, much less bring back those of our people who have gone out of the country. We shall never reach that position unless we can measure up to the requirements which I have been trying, however inadequately, to put before this House to-day. It is about time we grew up. It is about time we adopted a realistic approach. It is about time we faced the problems that are there, and faced the facts, by making ourselves aware of what has to be done. When we have done that, let us put the position then to those immediately concerned with the production and sale of the goods about which we are talking here.
It is not my purpose to compare our improvements, either agriculturally or industrially, one year with another. Neither do I intend to compare the increase in production and output, either industrially or agriculturally, as between ourselves and other countries. I think it is futile to do that because conditions may be completely different. I feel, however, that we can do a lot more than has been done. There are firms here of which we can be extremely proud, firms which are turning out a really first-class article both for the home market and the export market, firms which are successfully putting their goods on the export market and meeting and beating competition from countries with a much longer industrial tradition. I feel there are many other industries here which could do the same.
On the whole, it is only fair to say that Irish industry is in a pretty healthy and a pretty sound condition. The outlook is good. From my experience in another walk I can say that the demand for industrial premises at the moment is probably greater now than it has ever been at any time; and that demand comes in the main from Irish citizens.