Léim ar aghaidh chuig an bpríomhábhar

Dáil Éireann díospóireacht -
Thursday, 3 Nov 1966

Vol. 225 No. 2

Committee on Finance. - Vote 41.—Transport and Power (Resumed).

Debate resumed on the following motion:—
That the Vote be referred back for reconsideration.

In the very little time available to me last evening before reporting progress on this very important Estimate, I had begun to discuss the affairs of Córas Iompair Éireann. Of the variety of matters upon which this Estimate touches, CIE is the one which enters most particularly into the everyday life of all citizens. For that reason, it is essential that Dáil Éireann should consider, in so far as it can, how the transport system has been operating, is at present operating and the prospects for its future operation.

I know from his statements over the years since his arrival in the Department that the Minister has strongly disagreed with the contention from these benches that transport as such, and a transport system as such, should be regarded primarily as a social service, the main preoccupation of which should not be the making of profits. In every public statement he has made, the Minister has affirmed that he worships at what is euphemistically called the altar of free enterprise.

It is time we had a look at what is meant by free enterprise. Free enterprise is just a nice name to cover up a situation in which one individual is enabled and encouraged by law to make the maximum amount of money and to accumulate the greatest share of wealth he can by the employment of the labour of others for the improvement of his own lot. This is free enterprise, the Victorian principle upon which was founded all that is evil in our industrial society. The absolute right of the individual to do as he likes, without reference to the good of the community is the very epitome of the concept of free enterprise as expressed here by the Minister for Transport and Power and others like him. As we all know, across the water, in England, for so many generations of our flesh and blood who had to find a living, and their deaths, there down through the centuries since the industrial revolution, that system has meant degradation, poverty, disease and ill-health. Even within the past couple of weeks we have observed from afar with horror and sympathy the appalling disaster at Aberfan in the Welsh mining valley—the last kick, as it were, of a system and a society of which we had hoped we had seen the end. The mining tips which were monuments to slavery——

I do not wish to interrupt but the Deputy seems to be enlarging the scope of the debate.

I am only defining, if I am permitted to do so, what I think is the mind of the Minister for Transport and Power.

It seems to be very comprehensive.

I hope you will afford me the opportunity of being as comprehensive as I can.

If the Deputy is trying to make me responsible for Aberfan, it seems to me rather ludicrous.

I will put my own construction on it.

I shall not dignify the Minister by suggesting that he has created any kind of social policy.

The general social system does not fall for discussion on this Estimate.

What I am saying is—and I am certain the Chair understands what I am trying to get at, even if my approach is somewhat laboured; it reflects my mental processes——

The Deputy is very well able to keep to the point.

I merely make these references in order to highlight the kind of thinking which I know from experience inspires the Minister for Transport and Power in his approach to the question of——

I should like if the Deputy would keep closer to the administration of the Department for which the Minister is responsible.

That is what I intend to do, Sir. That is why I am talking about CIE.

CIE is a social service. It receives a subsidy of £2 million and much of the unprofitable side of the service is losing money.

The Minister has been for years emphasising that he regards it as a primary responsibility that CIE be run as a business. It is only now in this House at this moment that he has admitted, to my knowledge, that CIE is, in fact, primarily a social service and should be so run. The question of measuring it for profits should not be the primary consideration but it has been the primary consideration of his whole approach to CIE. The question of whether a branch line should exist or be put out of existence depended entirely on whether it was making or losing money. The question of whether an essential bus service, to any part of my constituency at any rate, is always determined by reference to whether or not it is earning or losing money. If it is found that a proposed service will not make money, in 99 cases out of 100, that service is not provided. In the instance in which it is provided, it will be found that there are some other services to adjoining areas making sufficient money to pay for the particular service which may be sought.

In spite of this Victorian approach to the national transport system, we have the amazing situation that CIE has consistently and relentlessly produced a loss since its establishment. As I was saying last night, like many other people, I had great hopes at the time of the amalgamation of the bus and train services almost a quarter of a century ago now because of the elimination of what was highly-undesirable competition at that time. I remember the Thirties. Some people talked nostalgically about the condition of affairs that existed then, but we should remember and be frank about what actually went on. I remember seeing the "Bray Races" when competing bus lines running from Bray to Dublin had drivers fighting one another, as it were, on the roads with the foot on the accelerator trying to reach a knot of passengers who might be waiting at any place for transport to the city. I remember the overcrowding and all that went with it. I do not regard that condition of affairs as halcyon. Though some people are apparently in love with this idea of cutthroat competition, they are blinding their eyes to what happened. Therefore, I shared the general optimism about CIE when it was first founded.

By any standards, CIE should have been able to fulfil the promises made in its respect by the then Minister for Industry and Commerce, the present Taoiseach, when he announced the formation of the company. Those promises were outlined last night by Deputy Oliver Flanagan. They were: that CIE would produce cheaper transport, more efficient transport and better labour relations, amongst many other advantages. On every heading CIE has undeniably failed. I do not think that it has failed because of amalgamation. Projects fail or succeed in accordance with the qualities or lack of qualities of the human elements they contain. Success is very often related to the enthusiasm, practicality and human understanding of the principals engaged in any pursuit. Surely nobody will deny in this instance that those charged with the management of CIE have failed signally in securing the aims set out over 20 years ago?

I have a natural distaste for criticising individuals not present in this House to defend themselves. Therefore, I shall not go to any great lengths to criticise the management for their failures. But I must say that those chosen to run it, particularly the Chairman, seem to have been specially inadequate and specially unsuited for this job. Yet the rewards and the adulation to which I referred last night have been heaped on his head, all of which adds to the public cynicism and disbelief in those of us engaged in politics and public life. There is sufficient going on today to discourage the belief of the citizenry in the integrity of public men without this blatant hypocrisy we have seen in regard to people who are retiring being provided with totally undeserved academic distinctions—and I do not refer only to Dr. Andrews—and cash advantages as well. There is sufficient public doubt without its being added to by such performances.

The Minister, speaking of the CIE deficit, said:

The greatest single factor in this increase in the Board's deficit was the net loss of £440,000 occasioned by the two-week bus dispute in June, 1965 coupled with a further net loss of £10,000 on two other strikes during the year.

He says later, on the next page: "To show the effect of strike losses, if there had been no strike in 1965-66 the additional revenue would have been of the order of £780,000". These figures bemuse me. However, that is not a fact which I wish to adduce in support of my contention that one can prove anything with statistics. Everybody knows that. We have developed a modern science of statistics which can be employed by anybody to prove practically any proposition he wishes to take up. Herein, the proposition put forward by the Minister, reduced to its simplest terms, is that the troubles of CIE are to be laid at the door of the workers engaged in the industry and that if we had not any strikes, then everything in the garden would be lovely.

I regard strikes in the national transport industry as highly undesirable occurrences. I know the hardship they bring. I know the people affected by strikes, large numbers of whom live in my constituency, particularly in the area of Ballyfermot. At the same time, I am not persuaded that men take strike action lightly or irresponsibly, as is often suggested.

I am certain the employees of CIE, in the vast majority of cases, are responsible men who want to continue at work for a decent week's wages to keep their families, if they can possibly do so. It is not to be wondered that, through their organisation, they are trying to keep pace with the rampant inflation which has gone on and to which the Minister refers in his statement—on his own admission. As will be seen from his statement, he says: "Of course, the rampant inflation that has taken place nullifies the benefit of wage increases...." This, I think, for the first time, is an admission by a member of the Cabinet of the condition of affairs in which we find ourselves.

Is it to be wondered at that an employee of CIE should take all the steps he can to improve his economic position and go to his union meeting and make demands for increased wages or improved working conditions not just for himself but for his wife and little ones as well? Look at the demands made on the average worker today. Two months ago, I provided the House with a specimen of a budget in respect of an average family of a man, his wife and three children living on the very barest essentials of life, indulging himself in no degree, not even going to the pictures and certainly not even drinking a pint but just living on the very barest essentials of life. They must be living in debt if the man has not an income of over £14 a week.

Yesterday I asked the Taoiseach a question, in response to which it was indicated that the average earnings of an industrial worker is £11 12s 7d a week—and "earnings", mark you, mean wages plus overtime plus any bonuses or anything of that nature he may get during the year. For the average, the weekly amount is £11 12s 7d. In the light of the fact that there are probably small sections of operatives who are highly paid, possibly in the £20 bracket, this must surely bring home to us that there are many thousands of industrial workers, who are said to be the envy of other sections of the community, who are living below or just about at the subsistence line. Is it to be wondered at that workers such as workers in CIE, in view of the admitted rampant inflation to which the Minister refers, should look for increased wages?

On a point of order, I do not think I ought to be quoted out of context. Deputy Dunne did not even finish the sentence. I said: "Of course, the rampant inflation that has taken place nullifies the benefit of wage increases but the NIEC recommendations have not been respected any more than the perpetual warnings of the Government since 1962." The Deputy should be fair and quote the whole of the sentence.

If that is a point of order, it is certainly a new form of order and one to which I must have advertence in my future approaches in the House.

I am not adjudicating on that, as a point of order.

Is it not usual to finish at least one sentence of an extract from a Minister's speech?

The Chair cannot examine quotations made by Deputies.

I do not think I would get away with such a long interruption during the speech of another Deputy under the pretext that it was a point of order. However, the Minister is welcome to it. I do not think that what he has just said adds to his case at all. The fact is that he is the first Fianna Fáil Minister to admit that there is and has been rampant inflation——

Since 1962, since the famous 1962 by-elections.

Indeed, yes.

We have been lecturing about it since 1962.

What did the Minister say?

Speaking about it.

Another verb was used there and was passed over. Rampant inflation comes into the discussion of this Estimate because of the attempt of the Minister to shuffle off his own responsibility for the maladministration of CIE and to blame the workers, the operatives in the industry, for the losses which have occurred down the years. Rampant inflation is something which he and his Government had a hand in creating. As I am so aptly reminded by Deputy O'Donnell, it was on the eve of by-elections that certain steps were taken by the present Government to encourage——

I have given the Deputy a good deal of latitude.

Sure, the Chair is down on top of me right away.

I am not. I give the Deputy the same latitude as I give every other Deputy. I think the Deputy ought to come to the point of the Estimate that is under discussion.

Surely we are entitled to discuss the Minister's policy in relation to his Department——

I am not stopping the Deputy from doing that.

And his statement.

——and his statement contained in this brief?

I am not stopping the Deputy from doing that either.

It refers to rampant inflation.

Any ramifications in relation to inflation are not relevant now. Will the Deputy please come to the Estimate which is before the House?

With all due respect, inflation must be relevant because the Minister led the workers to seek increased wages. He said they are responsible for the position in CIE and he says there is rampant inflation and admits the workers had to seek increased wages.

I am asking the Deputy to come nearer the Estimate rather than ramble around on the ramifications of what the Government say produces inflation.

I must say that the Ceann Comhairle is laying down boundaries for me which are a bit hard to adhere to.

We will come to it; it is a long day. I hope as well, as I go along, to issue a bulletin on the all-in catch-as-catch can contest, this race for a purse of 4,000 guineas with 500 guineas added——

The Deputy should keep to the Estimate.

——as the opportunity offers. Just now I want to defend the workers in CIE against the Minister's snide references in his statement. I think that workers, particularly in a transport industry, are subject to pressures and difficulties which are not to be found in other trades and occupations. Those of us who are in public life have some knowledge of the abrasive nature of contact with the public and of the effect it may have upon individuals who are not fashioned in Heaven. I am to be counted, I am afraid, amongst the latter unlike my gracious colleague in the same constituency. But contact with the public needs—and I am talking now about passenger services—a very special type of temperament and I think the employees of CIE have, by and large, shown a facility to discharge their often difficult and trying job in an exemplary fashion. I think though that people should be specially paid for what they have to do.

I have no particular man in mind when I talk on this point but the Minister in his eyrie in Kildare Street is very far removed both from the point of view of outlook or of physical circumstances from the bus conductor, say, on a double-decker bus who has the job of coping with the rush-hour crowd maybe on an early morning shift. Perhaps he is not feeling too good for one reason or another and he has to pound up and down the stairs collecting fares; he has responsibility for money and he must have an eye to inspectors and be generally courteous and affable to all concerned. That is a most difficult job in my view. In other words, it is like being a TD all the time and he is not by any means adequately paid for it. When such a man stops work, as he has a right to do, in support of a claim for higher wages all the furies of society descend on his head trying to create the impression that he is an anti-social criminal, but I do not hold that view.

If CIE were properly run and if the Minister had due regard to his responsibility, which he has not, such people would be looked after and paid wages commensurate with the demands made upon them, their abilities and their time. Even the very nature of their daily schedule of work is trying, and I would think, too, not very healthy because of the different shifts they have to work, the unnatural demands for swing-shifts, and so on. The job itself is not one that is commendable to many people.

In fact when I was working in Britain as a labourer a few years ago during a spell of unemployment from this House, I saw that it was impossible for the London Passenger Transport Board to get people to work as conductors or in the transport services at all, principally because of what I am speaking about, not because of the lack of earning opportunity but because of the peculiar nature of the job, because it was of such a nature as to be trying on the nerves. In any society in which there is full employment, it will always be found that the average man will move away from employment of this kind, employment wherein he has to deal with large numbers of the public.

This is a fact with which we have to live but the Minister at any rate does not advert to these considerations. The Minister's concern is with figures in books and with a lot of highly technical talk which is calculated to baffle and bewilder the average citizen, while at the same time, conveying the totally wrong impression that he knows something. The simple fact, which is to be stated again, and which should be stated at every opportunity during this debate, is that CIE has been mismanaged from the word "go", particularly has it foundered in the field of labour relations.

I think it was last year or possibly two years ago that I had occasion to deal at length with the various grievances of the workers, as far as work study is concerned. I was able to demonstrate here that these so-called methods of rationalisation, work study and increased efficiency, had only resulted in producing a multiplicity of supervisory grades which, as they escalated, grew less and less productive. I instanced on that occasion one man, one of the producers at Inchicore. I recall that man saying to me a few years ago when I asked him what his views were on work study, which is referred to here in this Estimate and which I think is relevant: "How would you feel if, on a Monday morning, you were inside the boiler of an engine, cleaning it, stripped to the waist, the sweat running off you, and a fellow was standing looking at you, an educated young boy, well dressed, completely at his ease, watching you with a stop watch, timing you? How would you feel about work study if that happened to you?" This has happened, of course.

It may be argued that it is inescapable. If the results of work study could be shown to be beneficial, the workers might be persuaded to endure the insolence of it. They might endure it if they could be persuaded that in the long run it would be beneficial in any shape or form. On the contrary, as this has gone on, this so-called drive towards efficiency, costs have risen and whereas, formerly, supervisory staffs, gangers, foremen and so on could be counted in reasonable numbers, today they are legion in CIE. It is like the early Free State Army which, it was said at one time, had more officers than men. Indeed the same could be said of their opponents, let me say. I do not want to be partial in this matter. The difference with the opponents was, I suppose, that there were more Generals or perhaps Field-Marshals. There were many Field-Marshals, the leading one, Frank the Ferocious, speeding back now to take part in the all-in contest. The administration of CIE which the Minister has sought to glorify, not alone justify but indeed glorify, in his effort to put some kind of face on what has happened since the departure of the Chairman from that post, the administration of the Board-and of the company has been signally unsuccessful. It is an indictment not alone of the Chairman but of the Minister's whole attitude towards public transport.

I referred last night to what I consider should be the Minister's title. It should read: the Minister for Transport and Power without responsibility. I found, during the voting in the lobby, that some Members of the House were at something of a loss to understand what exactly the lengthy addendum which I had put to that title connoted. There is a very famous aphorism, a comment made by a politician not very long ago in Britain concerning the power of the Press Lords—"power without responsibility" which, he said, "is the prerogative of the harlot through the ages." I do not want to draw that parallel too far. Obviously it would not be possible but I think the Minister's disclaiming of responsibility on every possible occasion has evidenced a contempt for this House and in days when contempt for parliamentary institutions is becoming a fashionable fad, the Minister's attitude is one which we must curb with every power at our command.

I often think that a great deal happens in this House under the guise of democracy which one would expect to find far more readily under an openly and honestly authoritarian regime. There are some Members of the House who care about such things. I do not say there are too many who care about democracy in the House but there are some who feel that basic principles are important. There are some who feel that all-in wrestling tests for power such as we are now witnessing are transient matters. Some of us have seen sultan after sultan depart from this battered caravanserai as if he had never been here and have long held and have had to uphold the important principle that democracy should prevail and that those who are put into authority by Dáil Éireann should be answerable to Dáil Éireann. The Minister——

I am afraid the Deputy is getting away from the Estimate.

The point which I have been stressing, and I do not think I can stress it too much because it is fundamental, is that the Minister for Transport and Power has opted out of his responsibility in so far as the answering of questions relating to his Department is concerned, as well as stating and admitting that there has been rampant inflation which is an obvious admission of the Government's incapacity to run the country properly.

That seems to be outside the ambit of the administration of the Minister's Department.

I had hoped, with the change of occupancy of the Chair, for a more liberal interpretation of the rules of order but it seems there is a special clamp on today.

The same rules of order apply.

I suggest, with respect, that every law and every rule has a spirit behind it. The rule can be applied either within that spirit or not. I should like to draw your attention, with respect, to the fact that we have had at least one reasonably lengthy interruption from the Minister in my speech, without any admonition from the Chair. However, I am not complaining. It is but in vain for politicians to complain.

The Minister confesses also that the productivity of the workers in CIE increased considerably in the past few years. He says this was discovered through investigations into the operations of the various superstructures he has up there in Kingsbridge watching the men working. But the fact is that if the productivity of the workers has increased, it cannot be said that their return in terms of real wages has been adequate. This condition of run-away inflation, which has so affected bus fares—particularly of my constituents —alone, and unsurrounded, as it were, by all the other social ills and grievances which are there aplenty in my view, would be more than enough to prove that the present Minister is not and has not been suited to the office he holds.

I want to refer to his attitude on the question of Dublin bus fares, and bus fares generally. I take it that this is in order. It might be as well, as I proceed, to inquire if what I am going to talk about is in order. I take it it is in order to talk about bus fares on this Estimate. One cannot ask a question about bus fares. I have a file of replies from the Office of the Ceann Comhairle and in that file every letter reads: "With reference to your question of such a date, addressed to the Minister for Transport and Power concerning bus fares in the Dublin area, or bus fares to Ballyfermot, Swords, Balbriggan, Dundrum, and so on, I regret to have to inform you that the Minister has no responsibility in this matter. "I have a very fat file of letters of that kind and the Minister for Transport and Power is unique in this. However, I take it I am entitled to raise the matter of bus fares now on this one occasion in the year when a certain limited discussion is allowed on the Department's business.

The policy of CIE—and, therefore, the Minister's policy—has resulted, in so far as bus fares are concerned, in adding to the living problems of the working people of this city, by gross increases in bus fares which could not be justified on the basis of argument as to the economic needs of the city services and has also resulted in adding to the traffic congestion on the roads to an immeasurable degree.

The average workingclass family living in a Dublin suburban area, such as Ballyfermot, where the breadwinner and possibly one or two of his children have to journey into the city and, perhaps, journey further than the centre of the city to some other suburb on the far side—at any rate let us say they have to take two buses —faces a very considerable bill in bus fares when they are added up at the end of the week. Bus fares to and from their work are not considered by the Revenue Commissioners for admission in the matter of expense allowances when workers make application. I have discovered, following representation here in the Dáil to the Minister for Finance on a couple of occasions, that bus fares of workers will not be considered by the Revenue Commissioners in the matter of the levying of income tax, as one might reasonably expect they should.

Certain classes of so-called business people—business, how are you: time spent, very often most of the day, in lounge bars guzzling brandy—very unhealthy and socially undesirable— would be far better occupied and, indeed, would be engaged in a pursuit to which their talents would seem to be suited—snagging turnips. But, however, these are only businessmen, moryah, who spend a lot of their time making their contacts in the hardships and wastes of certain areas which we shall not identify by name. They can get allowances for entertainment— if you do not mind—for visiting firemen or people of that ilk. They can get quite considerable allowances for expenditure in so far as travel is concerned, but not the worker. However, this is something I cannot fasten on to the Minister for Transport and Power. I merely mention it as an instance of the hardships in the lives of the bus-using public. The bus-user in this city and county is a grossly exploited individual.

The Dublin city bus services are an economic proposition from any point of view: they pay and they pay well. They even produce that which is so close to the Minister's heart, a profit —and a considerable profit; so much of a profit, indeed, that at one part of his statement the Minister admits that his profit is there and offsets it against the railway loss. He tries, of course, to conceal the extent of the profit. In other words, the Dublin bus traveller, the ordinary worker living in Ballyfermot and his family who are paying such a high fare to travel into work in the city and, perhaps, further on than the city and back, are subsidising the loss on the railways.

On the Dublin portion of the railway.

That is not stated in this.

I said it in a Question before. I am sorry; I should have been more explicit.

Whatever the answer the Minister may make, the Dublin portion of the railway can mean many things, especially when one looks at the kind of analysis CIE economists make of the workings of CIE. They talk about all kinds of queer continental standards which are, to my ears and eyes, foreign. I like to deal with simpler things. Even if one takes what the Minister now says, "the Dublin portion of the railways", that means that the Dublin bus traveller, apart from paying his fare to maintain the bus service in the city and country, is subsidising the railways in so far as they exist within Dublin city and county. Just a cursory glance at that picture shows Amiens Street, I assume, to the Delvin river outside Balbriggan, Amiens Street to Bray, and Kingsbridge to the border of Dublin county, where, as we know, there is a huge conflux of activity by CIE in the Dublin area and where there is a great deal of employment by CIE. In other words, this is the picture we have: we must surely have one of the highest levels of bus fares in Europe.

This has contributed again to the rampant inflation to which the Minister referred. I do not think it is good enough that the Dublin worker who is, in effect, carrying CIE on his back, and who is carrying the great problem of his own of how to live and keep his family, is now faced, we all know, with a threat of an exorbitant increase in his rent. The Dublin worker should not be so shabbily treated, but I do not expect the Minister will alter his attitude towards the Dublin worker because I do not think he knows very much about the problems of the ordinary people.

Dublin bus fares are about the same as they are in England, and the provincial city fares are lower than the fares in London.

I will take the first opportunity to prove that the average earnings of the English industrial worker in the provinces is far in excess of what was stated yesterday by the Taoiseach to be the national average earnings of £11 12s 7d, not just wages but earnings including overtime, bonus and everything else. When we consider that people are driven by economic circumstances to work in English provincial cities and towns and can earn there sufficient money to keep themselves and send some home to keep their families going here, the Minister's comparison between bus fares in Britain and here has no relevance whatsoever.

It has, because the cost of running buses, including general wage levels, is about the same.

They cannot get people to work on the buses in England.

I did not say they can. I am giving the facts to help the Deputy with his speech.

What is the point if they cannot get the workers? Buses in Dublin can make a profit, and a considerable profit. There was a suggestion about the municipalisation of the buses. I do not know whether that is practicable or desirable at this stage of our national development. I suppose it is all bound up with the question of whether we want to maintain a railway system. The disappearance of the railway system would have certain beneficial side effects. It would probably prevent the arrival of an unproductive element in this House, for instance, but at the same time, for the nonce at any rate, while the railways continue, there is I suppose a certain obligation on us to accept that the main lines must be left there.

We are moving more and more towards road transport, and the depopulation of the countryside which has come about as a result of neglect by this Government makes for difficulty in securing that the provincial bus service will pay. Nonetheless in common justice to the average Dubliner, who is a long-suffering man or woman as the case may be, who displays a tremendous toleration, who receives to his bosom any and every type of person from any and every part of the world, which is evidence of Dublin's civilisation—something of which all of us, whatever our connection with the city may be, are justifiably proud—it must be said that he is being put upon unduly by his country cousins——

——who glory in their superior cuteness.

Surely the Minister has no responsibility for that matter?

He is implementing this policy of superior cuteness for the benefit of the country cousins.

I thought the Deputy was one of the country cousins himself.

I am a naturalised Dublinman. I got my papers from the Clerk of Dáil Éireann nearly 20 years ago after the 1948 election when the Deputy was running around——

Not denying where he came from originally anyway.

Do not take me as denying or boasting about where I came from. What does it matter where one was born? If Deputy Davern lives long enough, he too may have the privilege of claiming that he was associated with Dublinmen. Where one comes from does not matter anymore. If it did matter, there are some gentlemen who would not be in this House at all. However, I will let that pass.

The Minister and CIE have contributed in no small measure to the traffic congestion we see about us on all sides in the city. This has occurred because of the high cost of bus travel. I know many workers in various parts of the city and county who have told me in the past couple of years, and more, that because of the increase in bus fares, they had no alternative but to find some other method of getting to and from their work. Accordingly, they went about getting an autocycle or perhaps a cheap motor car, in the belief—very often the correct belief— that this was a more economic way of going about their affairs, and that it cost less than travel by bus.

This has been found to be a fact. Take a man living in a suburban area who can obtain a car at a reasonable price and who can get a few neighbours leaving for work at the same time, going generally in the same direction, coming home roughly at the same time in the evening. He and those neighbours can travel by car to and from their work and spend less money than if they travelled by bus.

That is happening in every city in the world but not for the reasons stated by the Deputy.

What have we then? We have the roads becoming increasingly overcrowded, with a consequential increase in traffic dangers and, God knows, all of us I am certain open the newspapers at weekends with apprehension because they are seldom without accounts of serious accidents, particularly in the city of Dublin. Present in everybody's mind is worry at the thought that he may read of some friend, or possibly some relative, who has been injured or killed. The traffic problem has really entered the lives of all the citizens in a most terrifying way. Mothers sending children to school spend anxious hours until they return safely and have to face the same worries the following day, so much so that one sees increasingly, passing schools in the afternoons, parents driving their children, collecting them because of the too obvious traffic dangers.

CIE have contributed to that situation more than any other single force in the country because they have made it impossible for more and more people to continue to use buses because of increases in bus fares. I want again to raise my voice here on behalf of the Dublin bus user who has been so cruelly misused. A certain degree of cross subsidisation may be justifiable, but the last possible halfpenny is being squeezed out of the Dublin worker to subsidise inadequacies in the rest of Ireland.

To make one final point in regard to the mismanagement of CIE, I am convinced that had CIE had a different approach, from the beginning down through the years, we would now have a far more efficient system, far happier labour relations in CIE and strikes, I suggest, would be much fewer.

The Minister referred to picketing and its effects and to the fact that very often few people may be on strike but the placing of pickets results in spreading the strike to cover large numbers of workers. I should like to hear the observations of Deputy Dowling on that. I understand he is a member of a union executive. It would be a sad day for the workers of this country if we went back to the time of the "Pass all pickets" because the workers were fearful of losing their jobs. There was a time when pickets had no effect, when they were a laughingstock. It took a great deal of sacrifice and effort by many thousands of men to establish the solidarity of Dublin workers.

Very often this solidarity may have had what would seem to be unfortunate results in so far as widespread stoppages are concerned but the day trade unionists renege on pickets or try to reduce the power of pickets will be the day they will be sorry. Trade union pickets came into existence—this is well known and there is no need to go back into history—after a bloody struggle 50 years ago. As a result of that struggle, all one sees outside, everything one sees that is good—the new flats which are so lovely to see with children in them and families; everything one sees from Ballymun to the other side of the city—all began 50 years ago with Larkin, with the pickets. The day the Dublin workers soften on that will be a happy day for those whose purpose it is to maintain social inequality and whose belief it is that some men are born to serve other men.

We had reference to the Minister for Labour and in this respect I should like to point out that the establishment of the Department of Labour was an admission of the failure of CIE among other things. The Minister referred to the responsibility of the Minister for Labour for industrial relations, including those of State-sponsored bodies, and he continued:

I understand that the Board of CIE would await with confidence any examination by him of negotiation procedures.

This would seem to me to be a very intensive exercise or a very critical exercise and it is criticism we need in this matter.

The Minister continued that he has suggested to the Minister for Labour that there could be one representative organisation on behalf of the staff of CIE. He suggested one representative organisation. Is there not one now? Surely the Irish Congress of Trade Unions represent the staff of CIE? What does the Minister want? Is he advocating the idea of one big union, lumping all together? It is hardly likely he will be anxious to pursue that and perhaps in the course of his reply he will enlighten us on these matters.

Mr. Conroy recommended one union catering for all the workers.

Mr. Conroy is entitled to his opinion, too, of course. However, the mechanics of that seem to me to be very difficult of concept.

We in the Labour Party, the social conscience of this House which eventually will be occupying the benches where now reside that deeply divided Fianna Fáil organisation whose concern is to see whether Gorgeous George will win the first——

The Deputy will be very disappointed when he sees no division.

I am not advocating Gorgeous George's chances at all. I can see him failing, as a matter of fact. If they go into the country, I can see him being led by the Bonny Prince.

There is no subhead in this Estimate on which we can discuss this.

There is still something looming in the background. Those matters I know are diverting the attention of members of the Government Party who are not in here at the moment when the business of the nation is being discussed. The crowd seekers are engaged elsewhere.

That has nothing to do with the Estimate. The Deputy has mentioned this matter several times already.

I think it right to draw attention to the fact that only a few dedicated members on the Government side are here looking after the business of the nation. Members of the Government Party should be here to give some support to the Minister for Transport and Power. This shows how little they appreciate his tremendous effort to put a face on the futile efforts he has made. This is a commentary on the lack of support—there are a few distinguished Deputies here—which should be given to the Minister.

They are Dublinmen.

Of course, that is why I qualified it. They are two distinguished Deputies. Perhaps they are doing it in shifts. Maybe their turn to canvass has not yet come. The knives are being sharpened and the weekend will see the pace mounting.

It is in-fighting, at any rate.

The Minister referred to the question of harbours which apparently comes within the authority of his Department. Deputy James Tully spoke very unselfishly and eloquently concerning the need for consideration in regard to the harbour at Drogheda, which is not in his constituency. This shows the comprehensive view which the Labour Party take of these matters. I should like to add my voice to what he said. It seems to me that, on the question of harbours, the Minister takes what is essentially the wrong view particularly in regard to what he said in this 48-page novelette which was provided. The Minister said:

There will be no further capital grants for harbours of this type unless the results will be fully productive and will not divert traffic from one harbour to another.

Surely it would be sound national policy to endeavour to divert traffic from the larger harbours to some of the smaller harbours, such as Drogheda? This should surely be the policy of any Minister for Transport and Power, quite apart from the possibility of overcrowding in the waterways themselves in the immediate environs of any harbour. We all know from experience there is a traffic congestion in those environs which must have a very detrimental effect upon the economy wherever it exists.

This problem certainly exists in this city. Admittedly, the Garda improved the situation by the re-planning of traffic routes. There has been an improvement in the traffic flow because of the system of one-way streets which has been introduced over the past few years. People who have taken to driving within the past few years may consider the traffic chaotic now and may not realise that this overcrowding was always so bad. It must be said that before the present system of one-way streets was introduced, this overcrowding was beyond all description and there was little or no control of traffic in the city. There is an improvement to some extent now.

We have in the harbour areas this problem which has already been mentioned. Any Minister for Transport and Power should consider how to solve this problem of traffic crossing the Liffey, particularly in the area around Butt Bridge and O'Connell Bridge down to the point of the Wall. We have heard mention on various occasions about the construction of a tunnel. Objections are raised to this, despite the fact that it should be easy, in the engineering sense, to arrange for the construction of a tunnel to carry a great deal of traffic at a suitable point between Butt Bridge and the mouth of the Liffey. This would greatly relieve congestion in and about But Bridge and up to O'Connell Bridge. There is still no activity shown by the Minister in this regard. There was simply a suggestion that such a project, which would require quite a considerable amount of capital, should be left merely to Dublin Corporation. That does not suffice. This kind of project which would cost some millions of pounds I am sure, should be undertaken by the Government. The Minister for Transport and Power should do something in regard to this.

It is the Minister for Local Government who is responsible for this matter.

Transport comes into it.

I would be concerned only with its effect on Dublin Harbour in this respect if there was a dispute between Dublin Corporation and the local authority.

In other words, the Minister's attitude towards his functions follows the usual pattern. He will only do what he is compelled to do by law.

The Deputy is unfair. He knows Ministers have certain responsibilities and that this is a matter for Dublin Corporation and the Minister for Local Government. I come into it if there is consultation in regard to the harbour and if Dublin Corporation are not able to solve the conflict themselves.

Might I suggest to the Minister that he initiate an idea of this kind, a dialogue, as we say nowadays?

A seminar.

A seminar. The only way I see it in regard to a seminar is that they would be more at home in a samovar. The Minister has had this seminar idea all right in CIE but the general principle seems to be, if you cannot get a big and incomprehensible word, then do not say it. However, I seriously ask the Minister to think about this and, if possible, to institute some kind of activity that might get discussion under way at Government level in regard to it.

I take issue with the Minister when he says that no further capital grants will be made available for harbours where there is any suggestion that development of these harbours might lead to diversion of traffic from existing harbours. I think both diversion and dispersion are essential. There is a bottleneck situation here in Dublin, and I am sure Cork and Limerick have similar problems. I urge that that line of policy ought not to be pursued. I do not see the sense in it. It would be much more sensible and reasonable on the part of the Minister to suggest to shippers that they might use harbours such as Drogheda, instead of using existing large harbours and causing congestion in them. The Minister, of course, does not accept that view.

I want to pay tribute to Aer Lingus and Aerlínte, with both of which I have had some contact in the last few years in the course of my journeys to Strasbourg. I have travelled by plane in Europe and in England and it seems to me we have every reason to be proud of our airlines. We certainly have reason to be proud of the service given by the staff, both at the terminal buildings and on the planes themselves. Our hostesses are superior in courtesy and competence to any I have met on the half-dozen lines on which it has been my privilege to travel.

Certain of my constituents live in cottages at the end of the runway at Collinstown. In the case of four of them, the runway goes right up to the end of the back-gardens. The people in the cottages make no great complaint about the noise. They seem to have become immune to it over the years. It would drive me up the wall but it is a minor inconvenience to them. The major inconvenience is the fact that they have been told by the county council and by the Department of Transport and Power that their cottages will have to be levelled to make way for additional runway space. They are living under the threat of dispossession. That has been the situation for the past three, four or, perhaps, six years.

I was on a deputation from these tenants to officials of the Minister's Department some 12 months ago. We were hoping to get at that time some indication from the Minister about the provision of alternative houses for these people. They are anxious to be housed not far from the place of their birth and the area in which they have spent all their lives. They want the fundamental amenities of water and sewerage. It is a simple request. It is something that could be done and something that should be done with expendition. We are, however, still awaiting results from the Department.

I take this opportunity now of asking the Minister to bring this matter to a conclusion. The plight of these people is most unsatisfactory. They know they will be shifted. They do not know when. They cannot make proper provision for their future. They are anxious that their new cottages will have water and sewerage, amenities their present cottages lack. That is a sad commentary. It is a good job that the thousands of visitors who touch down at Collinstown, within a few yards of where these people live, do not know that the tenants of these cottages have to bury the sewage in the back gardens and that there is no water laid on.

The Minister for Transport and Power has no responsibility for that.

Indeed, he has. These people are the direct responsibility of the Minister. What is happening is that the Minister is telling the county council it is their job to house these people and Dublin County Council, in their time-honoured way, are not bringing the energy they should to the job. The result is that these people are utterly dissatisfied and unsure of their future. On behalf of these people, I ask the Minister to have this matter brought to a conclusion and give the tenants concerned houses in the area in which they ask to be housed, adjacent to the main Swords Road, and provide proper services for them. That is not asking too much of a Minister who proposes to level the existing homes of the families concerned.

The Minister did not advert at all to a matter touched on in our newspapers recently. I refer to the proposal by Aer Lingus or Aerlínte—I am never sure how one distinguishes between the two —to acquire jumbo jets capable of carrying 400 to 500 people. Before that happens, I sincerely hope these tenants I have been talking about will be rehoused. One can imagine the kind of music these jumbo jets will make when they are taking to the air or passing over. If they are a practical proposition, I hope we will try to obtain some examples but I must confess, as I indicated in a question recently to the Minister for Transport and Power, that the siting of 15-storey blocks of flats at Ballymun worries me, if it worries nobody else.

The Minister has no responsibility for the siting of flats.

Please, Sir, allow me to point out that he has. These are 15-storey blocks of flats built on the fringe of the airport and I am sure the Minister would not wish to disclaim concern about them. He must have been consulted.

Apart from the inartistic siting of these blocks of flats and, it would seem, a complete lack of proper approach to town planning, there is the obvious possibility— perhaps remote but none-the-less a possibility—of danger by having such high buildings close to the airport runways, particularly in the time in which we live when we are thinking of huge jets carrying 400 or 500 people. I asked the Minister a question about this recently and he did not seem to get my point. I was worried about the people living in the flats and he replied that he did not think there was any danger of damage to the aircraft. It indicated that we were not thinking along the same lines at all. These flats at Ballymum, and the houses, are what are known as industrial building or system building. It is just another way of saying partially prefabricated houses. I sincerely hope that they are sufficiently sound to stand up to the effects of the tremendous vibration which, as far as we can judge, will be part and parcel of the problems of developing airports everywhere for some time to come unless scientists discover a method of reducing the effects of the vibration. I hope that at no time in the future will we have any worry on this score, the proximity of aircraft to these flats, because it is appalling to think about what might happen.

I would appeal to the Minister to ensure that his Department will take all possible steps to consult with Dublin Corporation, Aer Lingus, Aerlínte and any other authority which may have to do with the airport, to see that, if possible, there will be a prohibition on aircraft flying over this scheme. As I say, I hope nothing untoward will occur. We have a very happy record in Ireland in regard to air traffic accidents, and, with luck, it will probably continue. However, one never knows. We have read and heard about accidents elsewhere and one never knows where tragedy will strike. Therefore, it behoves us to take all possible steps to eliminate unnecessary risks. I know, of course, that the technicians will come up with the answer that this is airspace that must be used, or something to that effect. The important and overriding consideration must be that there are flats for something in the neighbourhood of 3,500 people within a matter of a minute or so airflight from the runways and some of the structures will be 15-storeys high. The danger is obvious. In the many airports in Europe which I have had the opportunity of seeing in the past year or so, I have not seen any examples of tall buildings in close proximity to them. Again, it is a commentary on the absolute lack of housing policy of the Government that they rushed frantically out to the first available piece of land they could get, in this instance, from the Albert College, without having to acquire it and stuck up these flats in order to stifle the agonised outcries of the people of the city.

The Minister's statement is not without its lighter aspects. There is, for instance, one paragraph headed "Mediaeval Tour and Folk Village". The Minister said:

I asked the Shannon Free Airport Development Company to organise mediaeval feasts and pageants at the Castle.

This refers to Bunratty. If I do not make a mistake, I recall having seen a newsreel which showed one of the contenders, Frankie Ferocious, in mediaeval costume. However, it is very interesting. The Minister went on to say that the mediaeval tour comprised a one-day scenic tour of County Clare with a mediaeval banquet at Bunratty. Deputy Dowling would fit excellently into this because of his mental processes being so suited to the Middle Ages. "The tour is organised by the company with the co-operation of CIE and it has proved to be an outstanding success in attracting tourists, most of whom are Americans." Would you not know it? However, this is no doubt a——

Does the Deputy object to American tourists?

Some of them. I take objection to some of them, three or four of them. There are other people as well who take exception to American tourists but we will not go into that. I am certain that any Deputy from the west of Ireland does not object to American tourists.

All tourists are welcome.

Whom would you fleece if you did not have them coming in? Let me add that we in the Labour Party have nothing against any man. We are as one with all men, and therefore we do not object to American tourists as such at all. However, one or two of them are louts, as we well know. As a light interlude, in a rather long day, I thought I would read that because I am certain that not all, even the most diligent members of the Fianna Fáil Party—even as diligent as Deputy Dowling and Deputy Molloy— will have perused this engrossing and enthralling document line by line. It is merely that I want to let you know some of the thoughts in it when you come in here for a rest from your arduous endeavours on the canvass. In that regard I shall be issuing bulletins in the course of the day as to how the fight is going. The trainers early this morning did not have any conclusive reports but I am sure that they will have something by lunchtime.

The Deputy's remarks are not very relevant.

That is the function of the Chair.

The Chair is aware that I shall return to the Estimate. I shall not be provoked into a discussion of the wrestling competition by the Deputy.

All this reveals that the Deputy is madly jealous that there are so many good people to choose from in Fianna Fáil.


I am absolutely green-eyed. I do not see how one could be jealous of this undertaker Government, because that is what it is, on its way towards its political grave——

The Deputy has said that before quite a number of times since 1957. I have heard him.

I thought it was original. Let me say that if I am deemed to be jealous while I am not even in the Fianna Fáil Party, what must be the state of the Minister for Transport and Power? He must be "lepping".


There is a great deal of extension and building going on at Dublin Airport. All of this is welcome but it puzzles me to know how this can be done with no difficulty and no trouble about finding capital while cottages cannot be built for people who are in dire need of them. How can the two facts be reconciled? Is it that there is no profit in providing cottages and that there is profit in providing these terminal buildings? Is that the only consideration?

Bord Fáilte is, as we know, a refuge for many people, some of whom are doing an excellent job. The bulk of its activities remain to me and to the greater part of the nation an absolute mystery. What does Bord Fáilte do? Obscure is scarcely the word to describe its operations. It may be claimed that they advertise the country abroad: I do not know where they do it. I have never seen any advertising outside Time magazine and one could do that oneself by sending in an advertisement.

Has the Deputy read the report?

For my sins, I have read it, and the Minister's style is not very encouraging. I regard a great deal of what is said about Bord Fáilte as unadulterated bunk. This is a question that has been asked time and again: how is the income from tourism determinated? According to the Minister's statement, tourist income—and apparently it stands alone in this—is on target so far as the document called the Second Programme for Economic Expansion is concerned. Tourist income alone of all the activities of the Government has lived up to what was prophesied for it. Total income from tourism and travel, according to the Minister's statement, amounted to £78.2 million in 1965, an increase of £10.2 million on the 1964 figure. The volume of tourist income is therefore on target in relation to the Second Programme for Economic Expansion.

Recently the Taoiseach indicated that even he, its only begetter, was disappointed and disillusioned with the projections—which is another name for the guesses—of the Second Programme for Economic Expansion. Ever since that work of fiction was first produced, I have been at pains, and I was very much a lone voice in the wilderness, so to speak, to point out that the whole thing was a pretext and an imposture, this so-called Programme for Economic Expansion, and that there was no such thing as planning.

The Second Programme does not arise except in so far as tourism is concerned. To discuss the whole Programme would not be in order.

The Deputy is wasting the time of the House.

He is not, and the Minister should not take over the functions of the Chair, even if he has no other function.

I know the Minister is accustomed to dealing with sychophants and anybody who criticises him is wasting time. That has always been the way of autocracy. Let him contain himself lest I be provoked into a little more positive line of criticism. I am trying to deal with this subject in a reasonable atmosphere. I do not want to wake Deputy Dowling up so early in the day.

I am not asleep.

The Deputy gives every evidence of it. How is the income from tourism determined? I bet nobody knows.

By the Central Statistics Office. I have given a clear description of it in the Dáil on a number of occasions. I have not the reference here now.

To my knowledge, the Minister has not and I have raised this matter on every occasion that the opportunity offered. I am certain the figure given here is not arrived at by any precise mathematical calculation.

The method by which it is arrived at is accepted internationally by other statistical bodies. It is not exclusive to this country.

I do not know about the methods by which this figure is arrived at internationally but I am sure there are vested interests in other countries who wish to keep up the pretence that they can determine the value of tourism to the nth degree just as there are here. I do not believe for one moment that the Minister or the Government can say whether the volume of tourist income is on target or off target, or indeed that it is possible to say within many millions what amount is spent here by tourists, because I do not believe there is any method or guideline which would prove reliable. Suffice it to say that we know tourism is beneficial. We also know that the money which tourists leave behind them in Ireland does not percolate always down through the economy for the good of all sections of the community. Very often—and I would suggest this is a consideration the assessors might take into account— tourist income to the country is channelled into bank accounts and is re-exported for investment elsewhere in quite large quantities.

What percentage?

Another technocrat. I have not got it at the tip of my tongue. I am merely saying what my general observations lead me to believe. The Deputy must surely know that the amount of money which is transferred to the many people in the towns who entertain tourists, whether hotel owners, landladies, café proprietors or shopkeepers is fractional. A great part of the money is trapped and finds its way into bank accounts—and we know banks in this country have a great deal of money—and, in turn, is invested outside this country. Therefore the value of tourism is greatly exaggerated. That is not to say that I or other members of the Labour Party would discourage tourism. What I am simply saying is that no Government can say with certainty that tourist income to the country was x amount and that the benefit which the country achieved thereby was that amount.

However, the pretext is here, because it gave the Minister an opportunity of bringing in what he seeks to deny me now the right of mentioning, that work of fiction called the Second Programme for Economic Expansion. I am not going to deal with it at any great length except to the extent the Chair will permit me. I am sure there will be another opportunity. I look forward very shortly to seeing a third edition of this thing, and I am certain the new regime when it arrives, whether it be Gorgeous George or the Bonny Prince——

These matters have nothing to do with the Estimate, and the Deputy has referred to them more than once.

There must be a new issue of holy writ, and no doubt Deputy Burke will give it his customary liturgical reception, which will be all to the good.

I wish to refer to the vandalism of the ESB in destroying the Georgian houses in Fitzwilliam Street. This is a matter which I made the subject of a Private Member's Bill which was discussed here and in which Deputy M.E. Dockrell took a keen interest. We now have the extraordinary position that the Fitzwilliam Street houses, which seemed to people like myself to be perfectly capable of preservation and use at least as good-class residential flats in which people could live, were levelled at the dictate of the ESB who would not permit themselves to be discommoded to the extent of moving their headquarters outside the city, as most major commercial combines are content to do, who insisted upon remaining where they were, who were complaining about the conditions in which their staff had to work and who, at the end of it all, having been responsible for the tearing down of these beautiful houses, part of the very little architectural heritage we have, have presented Dublin city with a derelict site in Fitzwilliam Street.

Is this the aim and object of the ESB, to reduce our city to a Hiroshima-like aspect? Goodness knows, on all sides one can see Dublin being levelled. The bulldozer is ploughing its merry way in all quarters of the city. Where are the people, the workers who were evacuated from these offices, whose evacuation was said to be absolutely essential so that the new offices could be built immediately? They have not even got the Fitzwilliam Street houses now. Where are they? Whatever their conditions were in the Georgian houses in Fitzwilliam Street, their present condition must surely be that of gross overcrowding, wherever they are.

I have a question down on today's Order Paper which I just want to mention in the course of my remarks now. When will the new buildings be constructed at Fitzwilliam Street and what shape will they take? Will there be alterations in the original plans we were shown in the newspapers some years ago, and could we have some light shed upon the activities of this extraordinary body, the ESB?

The ESB is an extraordinary body. It is little known that the man most responsible for bringing the ESB into existence was a man who went to his rest this year, a man who did tremendous good for this country, who, in his capacity as a private citizen, did more social good than any other man of his generation. The man responsible for the initiation of the ESB was Joe McGrath. With the energy that only he could assemble, he, assisted by Paddy McGilligan, took the first steps to bring the idea of an electricity supply for the country to fruition in 1924.

The ESB is a remarkable organisation. Of course, at one time it was described in various ways. I remember listening to the Minister speaking at a courthouse in Bray in 1932.

Inside or outside?

I have been in many courthouses and am very proud to have been in them. I remember hearing the Minister talking. I would not go as far as to say that I remember him talking about the ESB in 1932 but it was the general fashion of Fianna Fáil to describe the ESB by that highly original phrase, "a white elephant". I often wondered what the origin of that phrase was. Recently I discovered that it has something to do with India.

I never said the ESB was a white elephant.

I am not saying the Minister did. I am saying that I listened to the Minister in 1932, outside the courthouse at Bray, during the election of that year. It was the year of the Congress.

It must have impressed the Deputy. It left a nindelible impression on his memory.

I took an oath on that night that if it took me 50 years, I would see that Fianna Fáil were rooted from power. He left an indelible impression. Although I was fairly young for taking an oath, such was the fashion of my generation.

It was not an empty formula.

Indeed, it was not an empty formula, as I found out. The ESB at that time was described as being completely unnecessary, a white elephant and the rest and the Minister was in the Party who so described it. As time went on, people changed and points of view changed. It is a well-known fact that the responsibility of office does have an effect upon those who carry it and that they may come to see that views they expressed in the first fine wild moments of youth have very little relevance to the hard practicalities of politics. In time, the ESB became the darling child of Fianna Fáil.

The ESB has never baulked at nor been deterred by any consideration as to the cost of living of the people who use the current. If the financial condition of the Board demanded it, and even if it did not demand it, the ESB went courageously forward and inflicted the highest charge they could on the people who use electricity. So successful were they in this that they were able to lend money to the Government very recently. The Government borrowed £2 million from the ESB. Have we not come to a pretty sorry pass when the Government are begging money from their own creatures? However, this money was lent to the Government.

I have in my hand two letters which were sent to two constituents of mine who applied to the ESB for service. One of the persons concerned is a man who is moving into a house at Baldonnel. The letter addressed to this man by the ESB is dated 5th October of this year and says:

Supply to house at Baldonnel.

Re the above, the cost of supplying this house is estimated at £280 provided that there are no wayleave difficulties.

One pole to carry the current and that requires £280.

To secure immediate connection you are required to pay this amount to the ESB. This money would be refunded to you when the present financial difficulties are over.

There would also be a special service charge added on to the two-monthly bill.

Baldonnel is on the south-western side of the county.

The second letter to which I have referred is addressed to a small farmer in Rush. The small farmers of Rush, unlike many others who bear the same description, title or appellation, can compare as primary producers with farmers anywhere in the world. They are unique in that. If the whole agricultural community of Ireland were like the small farmers of Rush, we would have on the agricultural side little cause for worry and little cause for complaint. These men are unique. What the reason is, I do not know, but that is so and is admitted by everybody. They are hardworking and ingenious and, one would think, deserving of all consideration, particularly from a Government who are never done prating about the need for increased productivity. In a letter addressed to this small farmer in Rush, dated 19th October, the ESB states:

Referring to your recent application for a supply of electricity to your glasshouse, I would now advise you of the costs involved which are as follows:

You would be required to pay a basic fixed charge of £1 3s 6d every two-monthly period, plus a special service charge of £1 9s 9d every two-monthly period.

As I mentioned on Tuesday you will be required to pay a capital contribution amounting to £257 to cover the total cost of making supply available. However, this sum will be considered for refund when the financial situation eases.

This man is not in a position to pay £257 because every halfpenny he has he has invested in the building of a glasshouse, which is quite an expensive operation in these days, and in the purchase of seed, fertilisers and so on. This man is asked to pay £257, a colossal amount of money to a man who is struggling with the earth to make a living. The Government could not get £257 in London: it had to be underwritten. They made a show of us looking for it at all. The Government could not get £257 but they expect this citizen of Rush to do it for them—to go to the bank manager and by some magical method work a miracle on him and get £257. Suppose he got it from the bank manager on overdraft, what interest would he have to pay on it? When do you imagine the ESB would be prepared to return that £257? I know that the best they can think of at the moment is that it might be repayable within six years, and there is no question of paying interest on it.

First, I am going to ask the Minister to make a special examination of these matters with a view to seeing that people who are producing, people living in rural areas, should not have these ridiculous propositions put to them. In the case of the first man at Baldonnel, I cannot see he has any alternative except to get a supply of candles because he will not get electricity.

What about bottled gas?

He wants electricity. He has paid taxes the same as everybody else and he has an equal right with everybody else. He is prepared to pay the very high charges the ESB demands and the very high cost of current. Is there no shame in the Government that they will accept the position in which a State body sends out such a pitiable letter to somebody seeking service? To me at any rate this marks the very depth of failure on the part of the Minister and the Government. It is just one more aspect of the policy which is bringing this country daily nearer and nearer to disaster. Another external evidence, as I observe, can be seen in the sordid canvass proceeding in the corridors for the short tenure of an undertaker Government.

I do not see what that has to do with this at all.

The canvass?

He described the Government as an undertaker Government because they have so many "stiffs".

Deputy Dowling knows a good deal about "stiffs" and how "stiffs" vote.

The Deputy will probably need a few of them the next time, and he will get them, too.

For some of you "there ain't gonna be" no next time.

I heard it before.

Incredible though it may be, I seem to have come to the end of my few remarks. I want to conclude as briefly as possible by saying that, like the late lamented Deputy Lynch, who used to be so prominent a contributor to this debate, I have to some extent become accustomed and inured to the Minister's inactivity. I am only given heart by the knowledge that the lifetime of his Government, judging by all possible externalities, is swiftly coming to a close and that his successor when he takes over office will afford new hope to the Irish people to enable us to do with this very important Department what should be done, that is, make through it a positive contribution towards the welfare and prosperity of the country.

Deputy Dowling rose.

Deputy Lindsay.

Go ahead.

I cannot allow that.

In consultation with your predecessor, Sir, I understood the next speaker would come from the other side.

I did not know if there was an arrangement of that kind. If the Chair calls a Deputy, he does not delegate his authority to that Deputy to pick another Deputy.

Very well, Sir; I shall not look a gift horse in the mouth. When we come to discuss this Estimate, or indeed any Estimate, whether there is a motion to refer back or not, we come to it in the knowledge that it affords us an opportunity of criticising, and of doing so constructively, I hope. In this particular instance, as is the case of any other Estimate, the Government of the day need not and invariably do not alter their figures or give way in any respect to criticism from an Opposition. They can, by a vote, put the Estimate through as it stands on presentation.

In this case in relation to the office of the Minister for Transport and Power I would like to say what I have said on previous occasions, and what I said as recently as last night on the CIE pensioners motion, that we deplore the Minister's apparent lack of power in dealing with matters of concern to the House and the country, especially as all of the money voted to the various bodies for which the Minister has, or should have, overall responsibility is voted from this House. If the Minister is prepared to shelter behind the technicality of the day-to-day administration in order to avoid the proper working of the democratic process, it is very bad both for the organisations concerned and the country as a whole. Should he desire the power to get a further opportunity of examining the affairs of the various bodies, all he has to do is to bring in a Bill to give him the power to do so. We will support it. In fact, we have a motion down calling for the appointment of a committee to examine the affairs of State and semi-State bodies. We do this not because we believe there is anything seriously wrong anywhere, but in answer to a public demand for such inquiries and such investigations.

Once there is any kind of public uneasiness and public inquiry either through letters to the newspapers, gossip, speeches at protest meetings or any of the sources from which uneasiness of that kind can be detected, it is better that such investigation be held or that the power to investigate should be there in order to alleviate any uneasiness present in the public mind at any time in relation to any given body or part of semi-State or State bodies. I know as well as anybody, and the Minister knows and every Member of this House and every member of the public knows, that, in making appointments to State boards by way of directorships and by way of managing directors, the temptation to appoint political friends must be very great indeed. The pressure brought to bear upon Ministers in that regard and particularly upon the Minister for Transport and Power, who has so many boards and so many vacancies to fill from time to time, must be very considerable. Not to succumb to it to some extent would involve great courage indeed.

At no time do I or any member of my Party wish to confuse the directorships of State companies, for which the Minister is responsible, with staff that work under them and who carry out the policy of the board through which the Minister's and Government policy is being implemented. They must be kept apart. It must be clear at all times that our viewpoint is—certainly mine—that the people employed in a permanent capacity on these boards, either seconded from the Civil Service or drafted into executive positions through interview or competitive examination, are, as far as my knowledge goes and indeed in some cases my investigation, beyond reproach. I think the public uneasiness in this regard is directed towards the boards of directors and boards of management appointed from time to time. I think it would be a good thing if the Minister would accept that as something very real in the life of the country.

Day-to-day administration may deal with trivial matters: it may also deal with very big and very important matters. The trivial matter may be important to some and the important matter may not seem of significance at all to others. A reasonable question asked in this House should be answered by the Minister. There is no difficulty in supplying the information that is asked in most of these questions. If there is difficulty, the Minister would be justified in resorting to what other Ministers do on such occasions when they say that the answer would require research to such extent that the expenditure of time required for such research would not be justified. That answer would be accepted by most Deputies. However, to say that it is a matter of day-to-day administration and that the Minister has no function means, in effect, that the Minister is doing damage, in particular, to State bodies and he is reducing his own effective status as the responsible Minister by giving answers of that kind.

From my knowledge and experience in this House and from watching the work of the Minister both inside and outside the House, I am prepared not to concede at all but to acknowledge that the Minister is a man of no inconsiderable capacity, that he is a man whose application is undoubtedly great and who could be dedicated to any worthwhile purpose. If he is to be denied and, essentially, if he is to deny himself the opportunity of using this capacity and application and to deprive himself of a purpose to which he can dedicate himself, then he relegates himself straight away to a person who has not got any responsibility in this particular ministry and at once falls into the category of those who appear to have a tremendous grasp of the unessential. It is all very well for the Minister to go around the country to meetings sponsored by Bord Fáilte, and so on, and tell people there how to present fish dishes or to expand on the more delectable types of soufflé but it is not the kind of detail or indulgence in minutiae on which the Minister should spend his time or to which he should devote his talent which could be devoted to better things.

The Minister's responsibility—if it is a responsibility—is, of course, very varied, ranging from air services and shipping services to internal transport by rail and by road. He is responsible for Bord na Móna, for Bord Fáilte and for the ESB. This is a very worthwhile ministry if it were worked as ministries are normally worked. I do not like to repeat myself but it is irritating to be told on so many occasions that the Minister has no function in a particular matter which is directly associated with a company over which he extends his political jurisdiction. To be told that he has no function in these matters is irritating and gives rise to considerable uneasiness. We all know our people well enough. When a reply of that kind is given, they are quick to say: "Why did he not answer the question, anyway? There must be something to hide." It must be perfectly clear, even to lesser intelligences that the answer to the question could easily be given. The answer would give rise to no uneasiness but would, indeed, alleviate any uneasiness or any doubt which might exist in people's minds in relation to the subject. That is my objection to sheltering behind the phrase "day-to-day administration" in order to avoid giving the answer to the Parliamentary question. I think it important in the general way too, of course, that the Parliamentary process should be preserved and the freedom it guarantees to individuals should equally be preserved.

Now, taking these various aspects of the Minister's Department, I want to say about our air services that from my not too unlimited knowledge of them, they are very good. Last year on this debate, I paid a tribute to the then retiring General Manager, Dr. Dempsey, who very kindly acknowledged it. I think a great deal of the success is due to him and to his feeling for human relationships. I think it is true of all State bodies that the sooner we get down to this question of human relationships, in industry particularly and in these parts of these bodies where industry plays a prominent part, the better. The sooner we get down to this whole question of human relationships to see that conditions in which people work are not alone materially comfortable but that there is an atmosphere of happiness and mutual confidence as between executive and worker the better. It should not be hard to work out that formula if people would approach it with the proper attitude of mind and with hearts unhardened by power.

As I have said, our air services are very good and the people who work in them, both on land and in the air, are very efficient. Our record of safety in that respect is tremendously high in relation to other services of the world. That is in no small way due to the sense of responsibility all have, from the porter who handles the luggage in the first instance right up to the pilot who guarantees one's safety through the air from one airport to another. The service given by the hostesses and the stewards on board is beyond question and if we find on occasion that there is criticism, that kind of criticism mounts sometimes from an isolated incident where somebody expects too much in too short a time and then proceeds to argue from the particular to the general, which is a very bad method of argument and one not recommended, and blame the whole service for that isolated experience which is not the experience of the vast majority of travellers.

With regard to our shipping service, and with that must be combined the question of harbour development, the only query I want to raise is whether when the B & I Company was being purchased, the survey was of a sufficiently probing character to ascertain whether we were likely to be faced with heavy expenses for overhaul, and even with finding that certain ships were unseaworthy. I think the Minister has spoken about that already in reply to a question but I would like to have an assurance again that such a survey was made and that it was the kind of survey that would leave us in no doubt that we were getting value for the money expended at the time.

In relation to CIE where there has been a lot of trouble by way of strikes and token strikes, again it reduces itself down to this question of human relationships. I do not concede that the reason for the trouble is a multiplicity of unions. I was watching and listening to Mr. F. Lemass the General Manager —I do not know what his correct description is—being interviewed on television in relation to this and I thought he was not being all-embracing in trying to put blame for the trouble in CIE on the multiplicity of unions. I think it should be easy to get a formula to deal adequately with that.

The long-distance bus services are good and they do the journeys they are meant to do in reasonable time. The buses are comfortable. They are well and carefully driven. I would like to say that a bus driver in Dublin city is a man for whom one cannot have anything but the greatest admiration. He is handling a very heavy vehicle and he is negotiating through increasingly difficult traffic. The small number of accidents recorded is evidence of the care and skill that goes into this particular manoeuvre. I might say in passing that it is a job, if the figures quoted in recent disputes are correct, that certainly would call for somewhat higher remuneration.

Coming from a part of the country where the bus services end rather early, County Mayo, I do not have occasion to use the train. One would require a car at each end to have that luxury; but to Galway, yes; to Cork, yes; and to Belfast, yes. I think far too often do we indulge in criticism of small things and fail to pay tribute where tribute is due. I have travelled recently a fair bit on these trains to Cork, to Galway and to Belfast, and for speed, safety, cleanliness and heating, they are excellent. From the point of view of heating, it was too intense for me as I am not a central heating lover but for the average person travelling, the heating was extremely comfortable. The diningcars on all trains were spotlessly clean, the food tastefully presented, well cooked, and altogether they give a service by way of speed, comfort, efficiency and courtesy that leaves nothing or at least very little to be desired. There may be somebody more finnicky than the average person but there was no fault whatsoever that I could find particularly on the run from Dublin to Cork. This is not due to any great exhortation from the Board or the management. This work is done by drivers, guards, ticket collectors and the people working in the diningcar. All these people are doing their own job in an extremely efficient manner. I do not think these things can be said too often about our people. As a nation, we are extremely fond of criticising one another and trying to denigrate the work of one another. The sooner we get away from that the better it will be for all concerned.

It is regrettable that Bord na Móna have suffered these losses over the past year and that they may not be able to get over their difficulties in the next year, due to weather difficulties. Of course, that is something over which no Minister or no board has any control. I know the work that is being done, particularly, of course, in my constituency of North Mayo at Bellacorick. The work is being done there by a competent group of people. From the teamaker to the top executive, they are all good, all doing their work and doing it well.

I am somewhat concerned about the ESB. I think everybody is concerned about the capital payments being sought for a first installation of power and light in places such as those mentioned by Deputy Dunne. It is fairly stated by the ESB that refunds will be considered. As against that, however, it is difficult to ask people who are operating in a small way to produce anything from £200 to £300 in order to have light and power installed, without any definite date being fixed for consideration of this promised refund.

I feel that the ESB spends too much money on advertising. After all, the ESB has a monopoly here, a very substantial monopoly, and this advertising and high pressure salesmanship is not really warranted. Certainly, the expenditure on it is not warranted. Any saving that could be effected should go towards the abolition of these special service charges. I know the Minister has dealt with this many times and has been questioned on it many times and protests have been made quite frequently in the House in relation to these special service charges. They are irksome and they fall upon the people who are least able to bear them.

That is the unfortunate part of it. They fall on people in the west of Ireland and in inaccessible places even in the midlands. They are the people who have survived on the hillsides and the remote fishing villages and places equally inaccessible. They are the people who have survived down the ages. Even in a sentimental vein they are the people who, I feel, should be provided with the modern amenities which the new State has developed. In fact, of course, although that is not the intention I am sure, they are being punished for having survived on these small farms in the out-of-the-way places, the fishing villages or the remote hillsides.

I think the ESB would be well advised, even though it may be necessary to increase very little in some other way or save something from some other source, to get rid of these special service charges. They do not involve that much in relation to the revenue and expenditure of a big corporation like the ESB. The sum involved is very small. I would urge upon the Minister, by way of repetition indeed, to try to do something at an early date about these charges.

I do not like the recent method adopted by the ESB in relation to increases in charges. Incidentally, if I may express an opinion in passing, I think the charges for light, power, and heating by the ESB are not exorbitant. If one examines it, takes the two monthly bill and considers what one gets by way of light, heat, cooking, water heating and so on and divides it up into a daily charge, it is a small sum and taking into consideration the amount of labour saved to the housewife in the process and the amount of convenience one enjoys, one realises that the charge for these services is not great. I do not like the method of increasing the charge and then setting up a committee to inquire into whether it is justified or not. Once a price goes up, it is very hard to reduce it afterwards because the argument can always be made that during the duration of the increased cost, the justification appeared all the greater. This is something that probably should not be allowed to happen again.

All that remains then, in my consideration, at any rate, in relation to the Minister's Department is Bord Fáilte. This of course is no small part of it, related as it is to tourism, which is responsible for a substantial portion of our income. In my travels, particularly in the west of Ireland and generally speaking all over the country, but particularly in the west of Ireland and more particularly in west Donegal, I have found that the people there interested in the catering business in hotels and restaurants have done the very best within the limits of their resources and within the limits of the capacity of Bord Fáilte to help them. They have answered the challenge of tourism in a reasonably good way.

There are many more improvements to be effected here and there but from what I have seen and examined, I think the concentration should be on the smaller hotels and guesthouses in the more remote places. The big isolated one does not really make any great impact in relation to the local people. It is the small ones, dotted here and there, that provide their own little bit of employment by way of the supply of milk and vegetables and the supply of turf in turf-burning areas. All these things indirectly affect the lives of the people of the small holdings who live round about. For that reason I am extremely anxious to see that Bord Fáilte gives every assistance to the small hotelier and to the guesthouse keeper, as well, of course, as encouraging farmhouse holidays. I think good progress has been made. I think Bord Fáilte, through its officers, are doing a good job.

The only complaint I have is that I do not think it necessary to be doing all this travel to the far ends of the earth on this "image" business, and I do not like that word "image". I think we should concentrate on the real source of our tourist revenue, that is, England, Wales and Scotland and our country cousins, if we like to call them that, in Northern Ireland. I am glad to see that there is talk at last and I hope it will be effective, of combining our resources in that regard and availing of each other's knowledge. With the restrictions on English travel, I feel that a heavy bombardment by way of advertising during the winter and up to Easter should be made on Britain so that they would come here in greater numbers. I am told they are better spenders. I do not want to say anything by way of comparison with any other people who visit here but they come and spend money and go away satisfied. They are the people who will be looking for the small hotel, for the cheaper hotel.

We have had a lot of complaints about charges in hotels. There is no doubt that the charges in the top-grade hotels, including the CIE hotels for which the Minister is responsible, are outrageous, if one relates them to the average income. Paying £1 or in some cases 30/- for a porterhouse steak in an Irish hotel when we cannot sell our cattle at the moment appears to be a bit ludicrous. I do not know where they get it or what it costs them but the costs are too high. I know, of course, that it is very difficult to do table d'hôte with à la carte menus but, in my experience —and I think it is the experience of most people—the table d'hôte menu is so designed and so uninteresting by way of what it contains, as to be deliberately calculated to drive one away from the fixed charge meal to à la carte where, of course, ruination ensues by way of bills.

There is need for more and more consultation as between the Department of Local Government and the Department of Transport and Power in relation to the provision of water and water schemes generally, particularly in tourist resorts. I might mention —one always, of course, has an eye to one's own constituency but, in this particular case, it happens to be a fact —that on Achill Island at the moment there is a huge outcry for water, not alone water for the existing hotels but water for the people who are making great advances in the provision of accommodation for guests in their houses under the farmhouse holiday schemes. That is something which should be looked after straight away.

In relation to water, there is another matter in which the Minister should interest himself: again, it is with the Department of Local Government. It is true that the Oireachtas gave the power to the Department of Local Government, under an Act, I think, of 1960, to install meters in hotels and charge so much a gallon, or so much per number of gallons used in the hotel. That is bad policy and is being done in a few places, to my knowledge. It is bad policy that one Government Department should be using the people's money for the promotion of tourism while another Government Department, through the local councils or corporations, is penalising them for doing what they can in this regard. This is being done—and it is right, I think, that the Minister should know this—but without any great preconceived plan.

For instance, the Minister is aware, and we are all aware, of the average commercial hotel in a country town; it is part hotel and part pub. The public house is used not alone by the visitors to the hotel but by the residents of the town, particularly if it is a popular resort. Water is used in a public house to a very considerable extent for cleaning of bottles, glasses and even for consumption with certain items, but no account seems to be taken of the water normally used in the public house part of the premises. It is all lumped together under this meter system, with a very high charge. It is very difficult for people, particularly people who pay high rates, almost immediately upon completion of some improvement to an existing hotel, to then find themselves further saddled with a stiff demand for a water rate. There should be some kind of uniformity and, if it was necessary, first of all, to collect it, it should be distributed more equitably amongst the people of the town or village concerned.

Those are the general matters to which I wanted to bring the Minister's attention. I hope that I have been constructive, as I think it is our duty to be on an Estimate of this kind. In so far as I have criticised, I have done so with the best possible intention, namely, to remove irritations and suspicions and, where my criticism has tended to be directed towards the top, relieving others, I have my mind upon the creation of proper human relations between executives and workers so that —in the words I have used already— there may be an atmosphere of case and happiness. All in all, while the money we are spending is great, and while we are irritated that we cannot find out from time to time how it is being expended in a particular direction, I feel that progress is being made. Notwithstanding the taking away of certain railway lines—which seems to be the trend at the moment—the substitution of the long distance buses has met the case fairly well. Therefore, while the Minister disclaims responsibility and disclaims that he has any function in the matter from time to time, we cannot now allow him to take the praise for anything good which has happened. All of that praise must go to the devoted and dedicated people who work in the day-to-day administration of his Department.

The Deputy has never yet read my speech about what I did do with State companies. I made two long speeches about the conduct of my office, a complete speech.

But a complete speech is not enough. That is what the Minister did. What the Minister did is one thing but what the Minister does in this House is another and that is what we are complaining about. We do not want to be told at the end of a year what the Minister did when we are not told during the year what he does in particular instances, and what is happening. That is the only complaint I am making. I am not for one moment suggesting the Minister is not doing his best; I have said so at the very beginning but the best left to him to do here is so little as to make it negligible by reason of the set-up. The sooner the Minister agrees and gets the Government to agree to the setting up of a committee of inquiry into the workings of the various State bodies, the sooner he will put the public mind at ease and the sooner will his position as Minister for Transport and Power be regarded as a position of responsibility in this country.

Having listened carefully to the Minister's 48-page comprehensive speech, I have come to the conclusion he has been attempting to act in the role of an unofficial ombudsman for the various sections of his Department. I say "attempting" because he has not been very successful in that role. There are very many features which clearly show how unsuccessful he has been. I am satisfied also that he has gone to the bother of obtaining from each of the concerns for which he is responsible a description of how they have been behaving but, to my way of thinking, that is not enough. I believe it would have been much better had the Minister indicated and displayed more activity on his own part, rather than leave those different sections of his Department for which he is responsible to go off on their own.

In connection with CIE, the Minister refers to the two-weeks bus dispute and what happened as a result of it. The Minister then indicates there was a loss of so many thousand pounds because of it. It is fair to say that the Minister is on record as not having intervened in any of the bus disputes, when he should and was expected to intervene. Naturally one would expect the Minister who is responsible to the House for CIE to take an interest in this. When he sees a dispute looming ahead, and knows full well from experience of what was the result of previous disputes, it is only right and proper that he should bring both parties together to try to resolve the dispute.

The Minister said:

As Deputies are aware, I have spoken on many occasions in recent times of the difficulties facing CIE. The Transport Act, 1964, provides for payment of an annual subsidy of £2 million to the Board up to and including the year 1968-69.

He went on to say how this is piped off, but again I think it would be reasonable to expect the Minister to try to ensure that both parties have a proper understanding of these matters. When I talk of "both parties," I refer to the Board and to the trade unions representing the employees in CIE.

The Minister also said:

The recent decisions of the Labour Court make it clear that there is no abnormally low salary and wage structure in CIE.

That is not true. Furthermore, the Minister should realise by now that the workers in CIE who had recourse to the Labour Court did not get much from the Labour Court, because of the fact that it is another State-sponsored concern. In the case of one State-sponsored concern against another, things are weighted in a certain way, and I do not have to say what way. Surely the Minister is not suggesting that what he said is absolutely correct —that there is no abnormally low salary and wage structure in CIE. That is a clear indication of how far removed the Minister is from knowing what is going on within the confines of CIE. He could very easily get a list of wages from the labour relations department of CIE, and in that he will see that a considerable number of workers are employed by CIE at very low wages, and at abnormally low wages. There is no doubt about that. If the Minister wishes I will send him the figures affecting members of the Irish Transport and General Workers Union, particularly in the rail section of CIE throughout the country.

Deputy Lindsay spoke about the efficiency of the running and servicing of our trains. There is no doubt that the personnel in our trains is second to none, in the catering service in particular. It is a very commendable outfit and it is far in front of any rail catering service in Great Britain. The price of drink on CIE trains is very high but I should like to invite the Minister, bearing in mind his contention about abnormally low wages, to look at the low wages paid to the people who serve drinks on CIE trains. In that connection, repeated representations have been made by the unions concerned to Óstlanna Iompair Éireann but nothing has been forthcoming yet. The people who dispense drink on trains are paid at a much lower rate than their opposite numbers who are employed dispensing drink in trade union establishments throughout the 26 counties. The price of drink dispensed by CIE is far in excess of what is charged in an ordinary public house, and in consequence Óstlanna Iompair Éireann should be able to do something about the wages paid to these workers. In my opinion this is a clear indication that the Minister does not know what he is talking about when he says there is no abnormally low wage structure in CIE.

The Minister said that the CIE profit is re-invested in hotel development. This situation is most peculiar, if not ridiculous. The Minister in his capacity as Minister responsible for tourism advocates more lower priced hotels throughout the country, but all the CIE hotels charge the highest prices in the 26 counties. They have not yet attempted to cater for the middle man, never mind the man on the ground floor level. The Minister has not indicated what he is doing about that. He says he is trying to encourage the provision of middle-class hotels and less pretentious hotels, but he should use his influence to ensure that Óstlanna Iompair Éireann produce some hotels of that kind, and not have a situation in which the natives of this Republic cannot get inside the doors of those hotels unless they are well heeled, and there are not too many of those people in working class circles anyhow.

The bus service in Dublin city is anything but satisfactory. I listened to the Minister's speech, and I also read it, and I was amazed to find that he made no reference to something that appeared in last night's Evening Herald. The heading on the front page is: “Giving better bus services.” The article states:

Dublin bus garages are to be de-centralised; there is to be more efficiency of services as well as greater liaison between management and staff in the various depots, which is expected to improve industrial relations.

It seems to me that the Minister did not know that that was going on.

I did; I was not quite sure when to announce it.

Why did the Minister not mention it?

I could not mention everything.

This is an important development.

It is a development which will certainly be welcomed, and anyone who has an earnest interest not only in CIE but also in the people who avail of the service will welcome this idea of the decentralisation of CIE as being an effort to produce more power and authority. The union which I represent have been clamouring for this for years. Not only would the people charged with responsibility for running the garages be given more power to improve the bus services but they would also be encouraged to foster better relations with the garage staffs. This postulates the recruiting in garages of people with a knowledge of human relations in industry. It is necessary that the people responsible for running CIE garages should be encouraged to hold discussions frequently with union representatives in the garages. It is obvious that such a combining of ideas would obviate trouble.

Many deputations from various parts of Dublin city have gone to CIE headquarters in Dublin with complaints in connection with bus services. Each time they have been given the stock answer: "The services are reasonable. We are doing our best." At the same time, public representatives have been told repeatedly by their constituents that the city services are bad generally. People in Cabra, Finglas, Drumcondra and elsewhere have to wait 35 minutes to get buses. The bus crews cannot be blamed. As Deputy Lindsay said, they are doing a marvellous job considering the difficulties they have to encounter, particularly the traffic confusion in the city centre.

Top CIE officials and the newspapers have referred to a possible understanding with Dublin Corporation in connection with city traffic problems so that buses might be able to go through the streets more quickly. While this is being said publicly and otherwise, there seems to be a complete lack of understanding between the two Departments responsible — Transport and Power and Local Government. The Minister for Local Government has a certain responsibility, through the corporation, for traffic in the city and the Minister now in the House has responsibility for CIE. Surely it is not too much to expect that the Minister for Transport and Power would have a word with his colleague in the Department of Local Government to try to reach some solution in this matter.

Because of the traffic problem, day after day people are losing time from work. In most cases buses are running behind schedule and then come along in threes and sometimes fours. The Minister, in this connection, referred to people who owned cars and I ask him to bear in mind the way in which Dublin is expanding and more and more people going to live in outlying districts. The majority of workers in Dublin live great distances from their employment and this means many of them have to get two buses across the city. The problem is not one of not having cars. Most of these people are entirely dependent on the bus services.

The Minister advocated joint consultation to ensure better understanding between CIE and their staffs on employment matters. The Minister said here and elsewhere that the multiplicity of unions in CIE is not a good idea and suggested one organisation. He should know, and I am sure he does, that this is very difficult to achieve. I do not think it will ever happen because, apart from a few unions catering for one type of employee, there are unions catering separately for different types of workers. I suggest that the Minister should settle for what is there already and I emphasise for his benefit that the Irish Congress of Trade Unions are responsible for unions affiliated. To my knowledge, discussions have started between CIE and the Irish Congress of Trade Unions with the object of bringing about better understanding, something on the lines achieved recently in Aer Lingus.

The Minister mentioned harbours and dealt at some length with the position in Dublin. I ask him to do something to have the port of Dublin properly lighted. I realise this is a matter for the Dublin Port and Docks Board but the Minister should try to get an understanding with them on this problem. Dublin has been described in the Press and elsewhere as being the worst lit port in Europe. There are many reasons which I can spell out why the port should be lit up better than it is, the most important being public safety, the safety of the people who work there. This is a problem that must be solved at some time and I suggest it is something that should be tackled immediately. I was surprised to read in the newspapers recently that one of the B & I ships—I think, the "Innisfallen"—could not be accommodated for repairs in Cork and that it was decided to send the vessel to Belfast. Everybody, including those most closely concerned, seemed to forget that there is such a place as the Liffey Dockyard, an establishment in which there is a considerable number of people employed.

It has been noticed that the B & I have gone in for chartering and because of that, it is feared work will be taken away from the Liffey Dockyard because there will be fewer ships needing repairs there. Irish Shipping have also begun to concentrate more on chartering and Palgrave Murphy have decided on similar action. In so far as the State-sponsored bodies are concerned, this is a backward move. There was a time when we did not have ships of our own and we decided it would be a good thing to have our own ships. Now the tendency is to concentrate on chartering ships and I am afraid many people have lost their employment as a result. I have been given to understand by the trade union representing workers in Irish Shipping that, as a result of Irish Shipping chartering vessels, fewer people are being employed there, needless to remark because the crews are foreign. This is something that must not be continued.

The Minister referred to Bunratty Castle and he indicated that arrangements were being made to have another castle go in for the same type of service as an attraction for tourists. Will we ever get from the Minister what it costs to run Bunratty Castle, what profit, if any, has been made yet and are we satisfied that this is the real way we should set about encouraging people to come to this country? The Minister said it was found to be a great attraction. I should imagine that people would like to see Irish people. If we are to go back to the mediaeval period, I should like to see it presented in a different fashion.

They see the people when they are taken on the mediaeval tour.

They are brought to certain selected places on that tour. If the Minister concentrated a little more on encouraging the local pubs in different parts of the country to put on some attractions he would be doing more good.

They are brought to places where people are dancing.

I know they are brought to some of those places but I should like to see more emphasis on bringing them to places which people normally frequent and not having a stage show put on for them in places like Bunratty Castle where members of a party are made lords of the manor for the night and monarchs of all they survey.

The Minister should, in the interests of tourism, do a little more about the provision of toilet accommodation. People should not have to depend on hoteliers with regard to toilets. There have been occasions when they locked their doors as soon as they heard tourists were coming in. That is not good enough. The Minister should arrange for greater concentration on hygiene and he should ensure that all cafés and restaurants have toilet facilities. At the same time, every help should be given so far as staff training is concerned.

The Minister referred to the regional tourist organisations. What credence does he attach to what they suggest should be done in the interests of tourism? I ask this because I had occasion recently to ask the Minister if he was disposed towards doing anything about the registration of cafés in the same way as hotels are registered. The Minister answered "No". The Dublin Regional Tourist Organisation have advocated the registration of cafés and restaurants. The Minister's answer indicated that there was an arrangement in existence whereby restaurants have to be registered with the local authority and public health department to ensure that they comply with public health regulations. This is not the question at all. It is a question of hygiene. I am sure the Minister had an opportunity of reading what the outgoing chairman of the Dublin Regional Organisation had to say. He made a point that restaurants should be registered in relation to price. In case I am not making myself clear, I am advocating that Bord Fáilte should have the same control over restaurants as they have over hotels in the matter of registration.

The Minister also spoke about more bedroom accommodation and the expansion of hotels. I would go along with him about having more accommodation, particularly in regard to the extension of existing hotels but there is a great deal of concern among the people who work in the catering industry as to where this extension of hotels and the building of new hotels are likely to lead. The more hotels extended and the more new hotels built the greater the problem will be so far as staff is concerned.

We know that the expansion of hotels makes for greater difficulties in the tourist industry by reason of the fact that the season is so short. Everybody who is interested in tourism has been striving to extend the tourist season. If we are to have more and more hotels erected, which operate for just a few months in the year, it seems that the people working in them will have only seasonal employment. This means that the catering industry will not attract the type of people it should attract because nobody wants to take on a job which will last only a few months.

With regard to the decisions made that we require so many more beds and that type of thing, I wonder where the people who make those decisions get their information from. I spoke to many hoteliers about this matter. Indeed, the President of the Irish Hotels Federation, a few days ago, in his address, indicated that they did not want any more. If they do not want any more, who makes the decision to have more provided?

There is another matter to which I want to refer, that is, the operation of Dublin Airport. This airport gives a very good service to people going out and people coming in. The service provided is comparable with that at any other airport. This is a credit to all concerned from the management down to the boy working in the airport. The amount of co-operation brought about at the airport is also a credit to the action of Dr. Dempsey who, unfortunately, has retired. He has brought about a proper understanding and he has always set about establishing good human relations at Dublin Airport. Indeed, if only CIE could learn from Dr. Dempsey, we would not have an iota of the trouble we have in CIE. I cannot understand how we can have a concern like Dublin Airport who get on so well with a multiplicity of trade unions, while—and here I would agree with the Minister—the ESB just cannot do so on a long-term basis with a group of unions.

The Minister talked about the ESB. One of the things I cannot understand in relation to recent happenings in the ESB is the manner in which it was decided to seek an increase in charges. A very bad example has been set by the Board of the ESB. A Prices Act was passed by this House not so long ago in which there was provision for notice of intention of a price increase. In the case of the ESB, the cart has been put before the horse. The ESB was allowed to increase charges and the inquest was held subsequently. This is a joke all over the country and this kind of thing makes a mockery of the legislation. It is a bad example to private concerns. There was no reason why the ESB should not be made to conform with the legislation passed here. It was to guard against this very situation that the provision was included and it was as a result of the efforts of the Labour Party that these teeth, as they were called, were put into the Bill.

In referring to the ESB, the Minister says that he has been in touch with the Minister for Labour in relation to labour relations in the ESB.

... I have made reference to the multiplicity of unions within the ESB and have pointed out that the statutory tribunals not only divide the ESB staff into two groups, a practice which will tend to be more and more outdated, but are a cause of prolonged unrest since frequently their decisions on major questions of wages and salaries are not accepted. As a result, appeals have been made in the Labour Court culminating in references back to the tribunal. In the new Trade Union Bill it is proposed to abolish the tribunals, leaving the ESB to set up conciliation courts for purely internal wage negotiations.

I do not know where the Minister got all this, but it indicates to me quite clearly that he is not sufficiently conversant with labour relations in the ESB. There are, it is true, two tribunals, one for manual and the other for non-manual workers. The manual workers tribunal deals with a multiplicity of trade unions and, with the exception of the recent past, there has been fair peace in the ESB, a remarkable peace when one has regard to the practice in operation.

I do not know if the Minister appreciates the way in which these tribunals were abused by the ESB officials. They could have been used to better advantage, had the officials shown some knowledge of labour relations and displayed more understanding. It is perfectly true to say—the Minister can get this information by examining the files—that every union which had to make representations all down the years to the ESB on behalf of its members found itself in the position of attending a mock conference. No attempt was made to get down to the problem and discuss how or why they could not accede to a demand or the way in which they proposed to deal with it. The moment the conference started, it was already clearly indicated that the matter would go before the tribunal. That is not negotiating.

The Minister seems to think it would be a good thing to substitute arbitration for the tribunal. He will not get away with that. The ESB worker, like every other worker, does not like the idea of arbitration, particularly in the kind of atmosphere that exists.

It is just not good enough for the Minister to pass over this by saying that he is drawing the attention of the Minister for Labour to this problem. This is a repetition of what happened on the last occasion. The Minister then failed to take a proper interest in what was going on; the dispute was looming and the Minister did nothing about it by way of calling both parties together, and that is something he could have done as Minister. The Minister went away out of the country. His colleague the Minister for Industry and Commerce, did not: he stayed here. When the Minister returned to the country, the pickets were going on and he then rang up the President of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions and asked him could he stop the pickets going on. He was waiting, like Micawber, for something to turn up.

That statement is completely untrue. I was away for three days and, in those three days, nothing could have been done until a certain decision had been taken by the unions; as soon as the decision was advertised, I tried, unsuccessfully, to avert the strike. While I was away, negotiations proceeded to a point where nothing could be done, and, if I had intervened, I should have been regarded as interfering instead of leaving the question to whatever the particular group were at the time who were to take a decision on whether or not to accept a settlement.

The Minister says what I have said is untrue. I can only say that what the Minister describes is untrue. I know for a fact—it was common knowledge—that strike notice had been served. Before the Minister left the country, this pending dispute was adverted to in the press, on radio and television. There is no doubt about that. It had reached a stage at which negotiations had broken down. The picket was going on and the President of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions was asked to intervene at the very last moment. My complaint is that it should never have reached that stage. The Minister should have convened a conference and got something done. That is the point.

In retrospect, legislation was brought in to stop further disputes in the ESB and we can only conclude now that that whole situation was engineered for a specific purpose. We shall have another opportunity of talking about this. Far too many incorrect statements have been made about the employees of the ESB and not enough has been said about the way in which their problems have been handled by those who were appointed and who were expected to handle them in the ESB.

Furthermore, it is necessary to point out that this cannot go on. The handing over of this problem to the Minister for Labour will not solve the problem because there is still this discontent in the ESB, and until such time as the people who are supposed to be in charge of personnel realise they are dealing with human beings, we will have trouble in the ESB. It would be an interesting exercise for the Minister to take stock of the State and semi-State companies under his jurisdiction and ask himself why the people in the ESB did not approach their problems in the same manner as other people. This would bear investigation and consideration.

Deputy Lindsay referred to advertising and he said that far too much money was being spent on ESB advertising. I think it is necessary for the ESB to advertise because they have not got the monopoly which some people think they have. This has been brought home forcibly to some people in the city and, here again, this also can be considered in relation to the wisdom or otherwise of increasing charges, because I understand that better value is now being offered by the Alliance and Dublin Consumers Gas Company for heating and cooking than by the ESB. For example, in the Ballymun scheme, it is cheaper to have heating, lighting and cooking facilities provided by the gas company at a cost of 15/- a week than to use electricity. The competition is there and we will have to take serious notice of it. Another matter which has been raised frequently is the question of ESB meter rents, particularly in relation to old people. This is a very heavy burden on a number of people. The matter has been referred to before and perhaps it is futile for me to refer to it again.

The Minister said:

A few, and only a few, Deputies continually question the legislative enactments which govern the Ceann Comhairle's decisions in refusing to allow questions relating to day-to-day administration of State companies.

Then he gave one example, CIE bus fares. I do not know in what way the Minister's mind operates in a matter of this kind but surely he realises that the people are the shareholders in CIE? The matters which affect the people are the day-to-day matters and where possible, they should not have to wait for 12 months to have day-to-day matters ventilated. It is as simple as that. That being so, the Minister, in the interests of CIE, should have another look at this problem so as to ensure that he will account in a more regular fashion for the operation of the various concerns, particularly CIE, to this House. As one who, on one hand, has complimented the people who run Dublin Airport, and on the other has criticised various people for the handling of personnel, might I ask the Minister to consider getting all these people together to attend a course in human relations with a view to getting them to treat people in their employment with respect and with the dignity that should be accorded to men?

First of all, I should like to express my appreciation to Deputy Lindsay for endeavouring to make way for me earlier in this debate. Unlike other Deputies, I intend to start at the end of the Minister's speech and work my way to the front. At the end of his speech, he said:

This debate can, I hope, result in my referring to the companies constructive criticisms of all kinds for consideration and this annual opportunity is useful...

I am quite sure that before the debate ends, the Minister will have received plenty of constructive and useful suggestions to pass on to the various companies referred to in his speech.

I should like to start with the problems facing CIE personnel and management. Possibly I am in as good if not a better position than most to speak on this subject because I worked in CIE for a number of years. I am acquainted with the personnel in the workshops and I have been through the railway works at Inchicore not long ago and I am able to convey the ordinary problems of these men to the Minister. I am completely in agreement with much that has been said in criticising the development at Inchicore. I want to deal with the railway workshops because I do not feel competent to deal with road transport or other sections of the company.

The Minister said that the problems of CIE do not derive from deficiencies in management or organisational structure. He went on to say that since 1958 every aspect of CIE administration had been investigated by management consultants with the aid of the company's executives. He also said that work study had been carried out in the workshops. I would like to suggest that it is about time somebody took a real interest in the ordinary workers employed in the workshops at Inchicore. I have heard it stated recently that if these people were asked to plan a funeral, they would probably bury the undertaker. The men in Inchicore have no confidence in the present set-up. In years gone by, these were men of initiative and energy, highly skilled employees in the workshops, but now they are regarded merely as digits, part of a machine rather than human beings.

Week after week men have been drifting away from these workshops, even though many of them have as many as 20 years' service. Obviously there must be something wrong and the fact that there is difficulty in replacing personnel, that we see notices in the buses every day looking for tradesmen of one sort or another, and the fact that CIE officials had to go to Britain and elsewhere to try to recruit staff, all indicate that something is lacking in the workshops of CIE at the present. The contentment that existed amongst the workers in other times is not there now, nor is there the same desire among workmen to take pride in their work. I believe that when visits are made to Inchicore, the place is brushed up and the best side is shown to people who visit the workshops.

The morale of the men, however, has never been at a lower level. I have spoken to many of these men, and indeed some of them were here last night, and they are very disturbed by the situation in the workshops and by the policy which has forced men with 20 or 25 years service to quit. The question of human relations in the workshops at Inchicore requires consideration.

Progress reported; Committee to sit again.