Earlier I was emphasising, from the Labour point of view, the necessity for making provision for redundancy, apart altogether from the question of apprenticeship, training and the coming into force of free trade. Let us not forget that in this month of July, we have, in fact, embarked upon free trade with Britain and, in the next ten years, the barriers will be going down all the time and, at the end of that period, we shall have to face free trade with the gigantic industrial force in Britain.
It is the confirmed opinion of both the labour and trade union movement that, as a result of the excruciating experience industry will suffer, industrial chaos will result. There will be widespread unemployment, underemployment and redundancy. While appreciating that this Bill is an integral part of the manpower policy programme, we would have expected in the circumstances I have outlined that, prior to the introduction of such a measure as this, we would have had a positive policy in relation to redundancy, with an assurance, first of all, that where workers are displaced there would be adequate compensation for long and devoted years of service, adequate retraining with ultimate absorption in alternative employment, with redundancy payments continuing in the interim period. Retraining must be coupled with adequate redundancy payments.
In my view, that is the measure urgently required now. We support the argument that training in skills and techniques is important. We have always said so. Such training is an integral part of Labour policy from the point of view of education. We are confirmed believers that a nation which is underdeveloped educationally will always remain underdeveloped economically. We lay emphasis on education in the sphere of training in new techniques in this modern age. We think it pertinent to point out that the immediate problem is to ensure adequate compensation in relation to redundancy and we would have much preferred to have before us now the Minister's redundancy scheme, inadequate though it would appear to be from the glance we have had at it, because that would give immediate relief to many thousands of workers who have lost their employment in recent months and, indeed, in recent weeks because of readaptation, because of fears for the future on the part of some industrialists and the apparent inability of some employers to face competition.
Many employers have made no effort at readaptation, despite the generous aids, grants and stimuli provided by the Department. There has been a certain indolence and inertia on the part of very many employers, some of them employing a large labour force. It is evident that these are the industries which will not survive in free trade. These are the vulnerable industries. A good deal of research has been done by the Committees on Industrial Organisation. The figures they have spell out the position in regard to the industries they have surveyed and the Minister should be in a position to assess the position as regards redundancy. He must know the likely redundancy. Too many small firms have closed down in too many small and large towns in recent months, and that at a time at which there was a great deal of talk about a manpower policy, about redundancy payments, about re-training measures, and so forth. These unfortunate workers have been thrown on the unemployment scrapheap and no legislation has been enacted here to help them to pick up the threads again and become absorbed in some alternative employment suited to their needs.
I ask the Minister to tell the House when it is intended to bring in here a measure dealing with redundancy. That is the measure to which the trade union and labour movement look forward most of all. It is the measure most urgently required at present. We are entitled to know, without any more flagwaving or flourishes of trumpets, when these measures will come into this House and when the unfortunate unemployed working classes can avail of them. This measure is to include the following types of training: the training of apprentices; the retraining of adults to skilled level by accelerated vocational training methods; the training and retraining of operatives; the training of unemployed and redundant workers who have the aptitude to acquire new skills; refresher training for workers whose skills need to be improved or brought up to date; the training of agricultural workers for other occupations; advance training of workers for new industrial projects and the training, where necessary, of instructors, supervisors and technicians in our technical schools, schools of technology—when we get them—and in the factories.
These are very laudable in themselves but—and this is the big "but"—where are the jobs to come from? Where are the indications that our economy is going to improve from its present underdeveloped position of virtual bankruptcy to the happy stage where we can implement all these things? Imagine the problem. We have a standing army of some 50,000 unemployed, the flower of our youth. We have an emigration rate running at approximately 30,000. We have an annual output from schools of 40,000 boys and girls. In addition, we have this continuing redundancy problem, which will become more pronounced as we move closer to free trade, upon which we have now embarked. In these circumstances, there is a colossal task before the Government to build up the economy and to provide in every town, village and city industries to absorb and put to productive work the vast numbers to which I have referred.
We wish the Minister and the Government well in these endeavours, but we will not allow the people to be codded by an impression that this can be done overnight. Obviously, it is going to be a long and difficult process. It is all the more unlikely of realisation by reason of the clear collapse of the Government's policy, particularly in respect of the Second Programme for Economic Expansion. If there were signs that this country was moving forward to that kind of economic growth and to that degree of prosperity to which we aspire, we believe these things could be done; but we fear that at present this is nothing more than a piece of political windowdressing which will not cut any ice with the unfortunate workers unemployed today or threatened with unemployment in the months to come.
We welcome the establishment of a Ministry of Labour. It is something for which this Party has been crying out for a long number of years. It is an indication that our policy in this regard was the right one. I want to avail of this opportunity to congratulate Deputy Dr. Hillery on his appointment to this important office. I am aware of the role he has played as an administrator and an accupant of various Government offices in the past. We look to him now with hope and enthusiasm to implement a positive, integrated manpower policy such as the Labour Party and trade union movement have been advocating for so long.
This manpower policy is meaningless unless it has the effect of creating full employment and providing jobs quickly. If private enterprise cannot find jobs, as they have failed to find them, then this Government have a bounden duty to extend State enterprise, embark on more and more State enterprise in order to put our people into productive work and ultilise the vast resources of our country as well as the harvest which abounds in our seas. This manpower policy should be an intelligent, planned development of our economy, providing for jobs, for job security and also for stability of prices. We do not want to see the wage scales of our people dissipated by rising prices.